Monthly Archives: November 2007

Quote of the Day

I’m saying you’ve already done plenty of things to regret, you just don’t know what they are. It’s when you discover them, when you see the folly in something you’ve done, and you wish that you had it do over, but you know you can’t, because it’s too late. So you pick that thing up, and carry it with you to remind you that life goes on, the world will spin without you, you really don’t matter in the end. Then you will gain character, because honesty will reach out from inside and tattoo itself across your face.

— The Big Kahuna

..the cost of character.


I just watched Snow Cake. My word of the day: “Neurotypical”

I found this amusing: Understanding Neurotypicality

Neurotypicals form their self-image based at least as much on the opinions of their peers as they do on their own opinions. They do not perceive themselves as individuals in the manner that you or I do; they see themselves as individual members of a group, but in practice, the opinions of others weigh heavily upon them, and there is a great drive to obtain the acceptance and admiration of others around them, including complete strangers. There is a built-in tendency for neurotypicals to blend in, to become “one of the herd,” so to speak. Most of them never realize how much their opinions are dictated by the group. They want the things that the group deems desirable, and they internalize that desire so fully that it feels to them as if it was an internally-motivated desire.

Makes you wonder about the evolutionary success of “herd-think” and the instinctive drive for popularity, often above reason or merit. Neurotypicality allows us to see the emperor’s clothes.

Quote of the day

You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. — Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Sometimes you get optimistic about an idea, then you realise it could be the uncertainty that makes you optimistic. This quickly falls away when you hit a barrier (red tape or politics in today’s case) which you knew could be a problem all along.

I guess the next step is to be very pragmatic about it all, or walk away.

Just me having a sense of humour failure.

A round of quick updates

I just got back from my walk around Lions Head. A few quick updates from the life of Joe:

  • Sign up for the GeekDinner, Wed 28 Nov, 65 of the 80 seats are taken so far.
  • I’m going to the bubbly fest in Franschhoek with friends. Join us.
  • The voice of reason: “The best intranet is Mediawiki”
  • I updated my blog’s About page and added a link to my all new and groovy executive resume. Had to update it for the Amobia business plan.
  • Amobia now has a PR budget and we’re having a 4 hour messaging workshop with our PR agency on Wednesday morning. Sounds like fun. Amobia also hired a new sysadmin two weeks ago.
  • Actually old news, but the Frogfoot Xen product traffic cost has been reduced to 8c/MB incl VAT
  • We’re getting ready to release version 1.2 of the Frogfoot Hotspot product. It’s getting very slick and well automated, with nice reporting. Growth stats look really good. Looking at stats for the last 7/8 months (since the beta started): revenue grew 12 times in last 6 months, number of accounts grew about 6 times, number of hotspots grew 3 times. This is obviously a small timeline, but still nice to see the momentum building.
  • I’m on my way to a Teraco meeting now. We’re getting frequent and large scale enquiries about the datacentre project, locally and internationally.

Crunch time for VANS license holders

Amobia Logo

Last week was busy and stressful. We wrote an ~80 page business plan for Amobia. It included a marketing plan, technical operations plan, full 5 year financial model spreadsheet (that alone kept KPMG busy for a week) and a company profile. It was a pretty impressive stack of paper with all the annexes. You can imagine it involved some late nights and tight deadlines.

It was crunch time for most ISPs (VANS license holders) with only one week to submit comments on the proposed ICASA license conversion process.

Quick (laymens) background on the ECA conversion, ECS and ECNS. The old/current telecoms licensing model (Telecoms Act of 1996) is quickly being converted to the ECA (Electronic Communications Act of 2005).

There are two primary groups of licenses (which I care about):
Electronic Communication Service (ECS) – let’s call it a service license
Electronic Communication Network Service (ECNS) – let’s call it a network license

Now split each of these in two types.. “class” and “individual” and you get 4 options. Listed in order of value/scope:
1. Class ECS
2. Individual ECS
3. Class ECNS
4. Individual ECNS

ECNS licenses allow you to build infrastructure. Inv. ECNS gives you access to scarce resources like frequency spectrum. Keep in mind Telkom / Vodacom / MTN will get 4.

Class licenses are limited in geographic scope.. you can only operate in one municipal area. Indv. ECS allows you to provide national VoIP services and interconnect with other voice providers.

Frogfoot and Amobia’s VANS licenses have both been listed for conversion to Individual ECS in the latest draft. This is 2 out of 4 in the very simple scale above. Actually first prize is an Individual ECS and an Individual ECNS.

Most VANS are listed to be converted to the most basic license (1). There are about 500+ VANS license holders. There are about 150 ISPA members and about 35 WAPA members. More about this later.

Our mission was to basically write a motivational document for why Amobia requires and Individual ECNS (4). While we were at it we also wrote a letter to request an Individual ECNS (4) for Frogfoot, mostly because of the idea that Individual ECNS holders can provide/provision interational internet access.. but it was not nearly as long a document as the Amobia one.

Amobia operates infrastructure in 4 primary areas: Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and North West province.. not counting wifi hotspot areas. As you can see we require an Individual ECNS.

amobia map

The fun part is that an Individual ECNS can cost anything between R1.5m and R100m and you have exactly one shot at it in the conversion process. After that you have to be invited by the Department of Communications to apply for an Individual ECNS.. don’t hold your breath.

ICASA have indicated that they will announce the next (final) draft of the license conversion matrix by the end of November. These are very interesting times. Make or break.

All WISPs need at least a Class ECNS. Currently no WAPA member has been marked for conversion to an ECNS license. Big problem.

Why the one week deadline if this is such an important process? Well, I think it’s a simple ecosystem issue. How many lions can you put in a park before they starve?. We are talking about assigning scarce resources and it must be an open process. Well, open enough. You simply filter with very limited time scales. If you have the resource and you can to drop everything and work on your submission.. you must be a serious player. Smart tactic. It’s just my theory.

Of the 500+ VANS, let’s say the 150 ISPA members and 35 WAPA members have a clue and know about the process. I think the rest have no idea what’s going on. Maybe 1/2 of these want or need an ECNS or could pay the license fees. Maybe 1/2 of these can write a convincing business plan with 5 year financials in a week. My guess is that only 40 companies will respond with something useful.

Very interesting times.

“We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive” — id4

Thoughts on tuna, ownership and breakups


I’ve recently discovered canned tuna. Skipjack, white meat in spring water. It’s the prefect food. Basically just protein.

Somebody told me Christian Bale ate 1 apple, 1 tin of tuna and had a few vitamin supplements as a 3 month diet for The Machinist.

I’ve just realised I have pretty much the same primary diet, but I also eat yogurt and I eat out at lunchtimes.

I think I like the taoist simplicity.

“You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake”


I’ve also realised that I don’t own anything (tangible) with a value of more than maybe R2000.. which is what I guess my current camera would be worth. In some ways you could say the camera is not really an asset, I’m sure it will be pretty worthless in a year, it just provides a service.

I have about 15000 photos. Since 2000, I figure that works out to a rate of about 70c/photo.

“If you don’t know what you want, you end up with a lot you don’t.” “The things you own end up owning you.”


Recently three friends have gone through (major) breakups and I count at least one friend that seems very disillusioned in the initial phase of a relationship where you would assume natural chemical infatuation would keep some momentum.

My advice after the most recent breakup:
1) Get lots of exercise, two sessions a day for two weeks.
2) Listen to the Moloko, Statues album.
3) Read The Origin of Emotions. It’s what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity.

“I’m a thirty-year-old boy. We’re a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.”

Quotes are from Fight Club.

GeekDinner #5 : Eccentric Eggplant

I suspect just about everybody that reads my blog already knows about the next GeekDinner venue, but I figure I’ll announce it anyway.

I managed to track down the bookings manager for Ferryman’s Tavern this week so we now have a booking for the whole top floor area of their restaurant in the Waterfront.


Event Details:
Wednesday 28 November
19:00 for 19:30
Ferryman’s Tavern, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

Go add your name to the GeekDinner Wiki and tell all your (geeky) friends.

We’ve changed the general vibe of the talk topics a bit.. the policy is now : Geeky, not Nerdy. So all the people that were cautiously avoiding the previous dinners because the topics looked very technical, please attend and try the original and authentic GeekDinner experience.

See you there.