Monthly Archives: February 2007

Leaving the City

Had breakfast at Melissas today. Man, I love that grapefruit juice.

I attended the ISPA meeting most of the afternoon, where I mentioned that iBurst are playing the self appointed industry regulator. They are dishing out disinformation to confuse the public about wireless ISPs. The reason seems to be that fair competition is just too hard for them. Let the consumers make up their own minds.

Tomorrow we’ll look into submitting an ISPA code of conduct complaint, hopefully with the backing of all WISPs that are ISPA members.

Had dinner in Stellenbosch. Blogging with my crackberry is just not that much fun, but still handy.

I’ll be totally offline this weekend. Going to the Cederberg. No computers, no phones.

Just that amazing silence.

Highjacking the GeekDinner back

So I’m a bitch, sorry. Joburg can keep 27.

Let’s bring the Cape Town Geek Dinner back. Original and best.

rwhois search on ‘geekdinner.org.za’:

GEEKDINNER_1172654850_ORGZA (geekdinner.org.za)
Johann Botha
P.O. Box 23618, Claremont, 7735

Administrative Contact:
Frogfoot DNS
Tel: 0216893867 Fax:
Technical Contact:
Frogfoot DNS

Tel: 0216893867 Fax:
Billing Contact:
Frogfoot Billing
Tel: 0216893867 Fax:

Record last updated on 28-Feb-2007 11:27:30
Status: Active

Domain name servers in listed order:
ns1.frogfoot.net (196.1.57.57)
ns2.frogfoot.net (196.1.58.158)
ns3.frogfoot.net (69.59.186.245)

To quote The Lush

The Geek Dinner at Relish was gorgeous, classy and well organised. Not something true geeks could organise, no offence guys. I think you’re brilliant but organisational skills, generally speaking, are not often possessed by a true geek.

Well, we’re just going to have to see about that.

I have a little Xen box up. Wiki, Blog and other details will follow. I’m thinking Barbarellas would be a nice venue. It has a nice scifi angle to it. Nobody can resist the image of a hot woman with a ray gun. We’ll find us a wine sponsor. Ideas are welcome.

Nightswimming GeekDinner

27 Dinner. Yes. My comments.

First a disclaimer, I blame this on the fine Tanqueray No. Ten I had tonight, this includes the language.

Next, three quotes, the first is from the song I listened to on the way home. The second is from the high priest of Gonzo. May he rest in peace. The third is my point.

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
I’m not sure all these people understand
It’s not like years ago,
The fear of getting caught,
Of recklessness and water
They cannot see me naked
These things, they go away,
Replaced by everyday
— R.E.M

“Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later?
Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak
that never comes again. San Fransisco in the middle sixties was a very
special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe
not, in the long run… There was madness in any direction, at any hour.
If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or
La Honda… You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic
universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning…
And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory
over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t
need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting
— on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest
of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go
up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes
you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally
broke and rolled back.”
— Hunter S. Thompson

See all this? It’s simply shaping tomorrow.
— Mr. Atto, Black Hawk Down

I’ll post the photos tomorrow. Thanks for the slide show images of our blogs, nice touch. Nice food. Nice community of people.

Down to business.

Why the fuck did I have to sit there and listen to some marketing chick on speed and some soulless blood sucking GSM network puppet telling us how WAP 2 and IRV is cool? “Get the .mobi domain” wtf!. The forces of Old and Evil.

The worst thing a geek can be is bored.
I was sitting in the corner with all the real geeks and we were bored. bored.

Ask them.

Back to the story. Why the quotes? Because.. if you dilute it too far it will die.

Blogging is about Gonzo journalism and exposing your underbelly. Brutal honesty. It is about optimism and subjective opinions. Newness. Fun. Revolution. Being a part of something. Community. Cape Town in the summertime. But. These things fade away. Replaced by everyday.

Please don’t invite anymore boring people or I’m getting off at the next high water mark.

Web PR Day

Today I attended the Web PR conference at the BMW pavilion. I was not sure what to expect. It is easy to be sceptical of marketing droids armed with technology buzzword weapons… “Set phasers to DUMB”.

All in all, the day was good fun. I learned new and interesting things. Nice food. Good Tea. Rob Stokes is a cool guy and a good speaker with a solid understanding of web technologies.

I had a good giggle when Rob commented that he thinks Stormhoek wine is pretty average. I agree. I try not to be a wine snob, though I was on the committee of the Stellenbosch University Wine Culture Society back in the day when I had the time to go on wine tours twice a week. Nostalgia moment.

There is nothing average about what Stormhoek managed to achieve using blogging.

A shocking fact.. Only 7% of blog readers use web syndication (RSS or ATOM) to read blogs. In some ways many blog readers still need to learn how to tie their (Web 2.0) shoelaces. I recently attempted to stop emailing all my friends to notify them when I update my online photos and rather provide an ATOM feed. I think only two people managed to get it right even after I made a fuss, sent them links and explained how to add and read feeds.

Always nice to chat with bloggers like the brave Lush, the Web Addict and Ashley. I also met Sarah, the mother goose, over a tea break. No Iceman, this is not a reference to Top Gun. It’s about PR strategy.

In summary, I’m optimistic about Web PR in SA and I again have that reality distortion field feeling about being a part of the “blogging thing” after today.

“Great balls of fire!”
— Goose, Top Gun

Design Indaba, Internet-Zero

I’m nakkered after 11 hours at the Design Indaba. Not easy being “all smiles” for that amount of time. Actually I’m too tired to blog, but..

The Lush and I ran into each other.. again she beat me to blogging about the encounter. Thanks for the business card compliment. They make even Patrick Bateman envious. (did you have to google that?) See you at Web PR and the 27 Dinner.

I’m starting to think the Toyota Prius is a cool car. How geeky is that? There was one on show so I interrogated the friendly sales guy. They don’t sell very well at about R270k but they have very cool onboard computers. Ok, I know what you are thinking. It’s ugly, yes, I know. It is a hybrid car dammit. Hhmm.. maybe a green one with a frog on it. Ok, the new TT is a little bit cooler ride.

By far the (2nd) coolest stand was the Fab Lab stand, with MIT origins. I walked over and talked to them for a while.

Have a look at the Internet-0 idea. They teach people to build circuit boards using discrete components and how to program micro-controllers. The gadgets they build seem to use I0 (I-zero) to connect TV sets to the Internet.

I have no idea how practical this is, or if you can really connect to the Internet using nothing but a 9V battery and wet shoelaces, but this pushes the boundaries of “gum and rubber band” networking. Then again, I guess they have better chances than people who use 3Com products.

This reminds me of a practical lesson from my (wasted) engineering math classes.. “you can take anything to the n’th power, that means with enough effort you can probably break off your thumb in your butt”.

The scar Haircut

Today I went for the Scar Haircut experience.

For those not in the know, Scar is the definitive name in the Cape Town alternative haircut scene.

Scar is in Kloof Street, which is within walking distance from where I live. A two storey shop, part hair dresser, part clothing store. Nice people, creative vibe, good tea, very pleasant scalp massages and good music.

Some David Bowie was playing.. I think from the Ziggy Stardust days. So I’m sitting there, sipping my tea, surrounded by very alternatively dressed people suggesting I go for something “different”. With this David Bowie picture in my mind I feel tempted to say.. “sure, why the hell not?, lets do something wild!”.

Did I mention David Bowie already?, hmm.. could have been from Hunky Dory.
This is where the story takes a sad turn.

I was told my hair was not long enough for any way-out creative cut. Bummer. The stylist starts asking what I do for a living.. as they seem to drum into them in hair stylist school. I can kick myself, but I’m honest and I give her the “director of a few IT companies” answer.

I could see her pity me with the dull corporate existence idea in her mind. She’s thinking what is this “short back and sides” computer geek doing here? I’m thinking, surely people are not that easily defined, it’s just a haircut right?

Not all revolutions involve people with alternative haircuts, or do they?

Walking down Long Street is really an experience on a Friday afternoon. All the groovy people and places. Designer coffee fixes. Art galleries. Organic food restaurants, interesting niche clothing shops. Fast paced living. Traffic. So much sensory stimulation.

With all this just down the road, why do people go to the sad cookie-cutter franchise chain coffee shop called Mug and Bean? I don’t even drink any coffee and I can tell you it’s a lame coffee shop. I don’t get it.

PS. if you are wondering, did he get the “short back and sides” cut?.. the answer is: No =:-P

Live from the Design Indaba

Only 10 Minutes before the opening of Design Indaba 2007.

People are busy doing the last minute things to get their stands ready. Nice vibe.
The Frogfoot stand is ready.

I’m using my 3G – bluetooth link, which strangely enough is working well today.

I’ll add pics later.
Must dash.

Update @ 20:24 : the pictures..

DI1 DI2 DI3

More photos at the usual place.

Time to take a stand, liberate SA telecoms

The insects at iBurst have just laid a formal complaint against WISPs with ICASA. This has been confirmed.

You know what this means right?
Strategically this will unite the Wireless ISPs and they will fight back. The WAPA meeting on Friday 2 March will be very interesting.

Consumers, businesses, people who are sick of the state of the telecoms market in South Africa, we need your help. We need you to take a stand, speak up and get the message out there. Blog, email friends, talk to your friends who are iBurst customers. Talk to people about why the wireless networking market needs to be liberated and self regulated.

So iBurst, you think you can trample on the entrepreneurs, innovators and revolutionaries that built an industry from nothing that is now worth R42m/year? ..We’re just going to have to see about that.

Some stats on the ISM wireless market from last year, I’m sure the numbers are even more impressive by now:

The Industry is young yet has shown more than 100% growth in the last year and as of October 2006 the fledgling industry boasts:
Subscribers: 4 554
Annual Turnover: R42M
Employment: 190 people
Schools connected: 109 (e-rate of 50% or free)
Clinics/Libraries: 26
Note: This is only in the Western Cape, and only with the first 15 Members of WAPA.

— Stats thanks to WAPA

The hot librarian category

Notes on pondering how the human brain computes attraction.

Today, while spinning, I was, as usual, in the presence of many hot females. This can be a bit distracting. How do you concentrate when your eyes constantly get drawn to, well.. foxy gym outfits.

You can see where this is going right? Try to keep focus. (-:

What I was trying to figure out is, why some specimens tend to be more distracting. There seems to be the common logic that men can be grouped into simple categories: legs guy, bum guy, boob guy. I’ve never really been able to place myself in any of these groups.

The one thing I did figure out is that it would be almost impossible to concentrate in a spinning class that included Kate Beckinsale.

I think it all started with that scene in Laurel Canyon where she goes jogging.

B1 B2 B3

From this I have to conclude that I must be in the “hot naughty intellectual librarian in a cute gym outfit” category. Intellectual here, can also be substituted with “a bit wacky” or even “nutter”.

Now all I have to do is find me one of these specimens. Do’h! I just noticed I already ticked that tickbox.

I blame all this random jabbering thoughts on the nutraceuticals and endorphins.

Frog Interview Day

I was lazy yesterday, so you’re getting all the Monday and Tuesday news in one posting.

Monday was one of those crazy days, there was the email flood, I typed 70+ emails spanning three (company) outboxes, we’re busy migrating about 700 new clients into our web management portal, the last minute Design Indaba things needed work and we seemed to have finally completed the hiring process for a new Senior Systems Engineer.

Today was a 5 interview session day, one was ok, one was hopeful and one was very interesting. Always nice finally meeting people you’ve only communicated with online.

I’m busy shopping for high-end layer 2 switching equipment, 200-400 port GigE switch that does metro-ethernet q-in-q, channel bonding, vlan trunking and has a useful management API. So far HP have been a bit more helpful than Cisco.

ps. The WAPA AGM is set for Friday 2 March.

Amobia, the brief history

I wrote an email over the weekend to give a potential employee some background about Amobia. Today I figured it could be good material for a blog posting. Amobia is looking for Senior Systems Engineer(s), so if you read this, you get a twinkle in your eye and you’ve got the balls, erm.. guts for pushing the (wireless) envelope please contact us. Only the brave.

Here’s the background…

Amobia is just over 1 year old. Our first client was connected in October 2005. It’s a young company, but it is showing very nice growth.

In the short time Amobia has been running we have built up an impressive customer list, this includes.. Datapro, Storm, Truworths (incl. Uzzi), Pepcor, Pam Golding Properties, BP, Swist Group (of MXiT fame), WP cricket, call-centres, a number of hotels, wine farms, about 50 schools (at last count) and our most interesting project at the moment: Pick ‘n Pay, for which we are aiming to connect all their stores in the Western Cape. We have partnerships with Arivia.kom and Verizon Business and Amobia has the backing of three partner companies: Frogfoot, Blio and Cape PC Services.

Wow, that was a mouth-full (-:

How do we manage to get ISPs to use our services you may be wondering? We’ll we have an “inclusive” business model. In the corporate and business market Amobia does not offer any IP transit services. We are purely a Last Mile Infrastructure provider.

These are exciting times. Amobia is franchising and the model has been proven to be successful. The legal environment is rapidly changing and we are a part of that change. Amobia is busy planning it’s network deployment in Joburg. There are very interesting challenges of interconnecting WISPs, reselling, and roaming. This is ground breaking stuff.

I believe we as a company and as an industry are doing pioneering work in the outdoor wireless space. I’m confident we are leaders in technology and innovation compared to the rest of Africa and even the US.

In some ways Amobia is close to the point where we need to clean up our act to “go big” and refine some of our initial design choices. Amobia 2.0 (:

We’re looking at improving the management systems, the LDAP logic, the VPN model needs a Radius layer, we’d like 802.1X support, we’d like to look at using OLSR to improve on OSPF. We’d like to add a WiFi roaming product (which we are currently working on). We’d like to dump Mikrotik if at all possible and use our own Linux routers… this will make our network 100% home-grown, proudly designed in Cape Town. We need a WiFi meshing solution for large areas like housing complexes.

We need people who can consume all the complexity of this network.. wireless technologies, VPNs, dynamic routing, x509 auth, Radius, LDAP, monitoring… etc. and help design and shape its future. Not many people have the gift of seeing this big a picture and producing clear workable solutions to problems.

—-8< snip 8< ----