Monthly Archives: March 2009

Neotel SMS Costs

I recently attended a Neotel Solutions Day at the Waterfront.

I have a lot of respect for their enterprise business. They seem to be doing good things. Their consumer division is another story.
Just before lunch they had a guy from the Neotel consumer division talk about their consumer services, residential phone services etc.

Now, Neotel claim that:

“Neotel is South Africa’s first converged communications network operator”

Pricing: (iirc)
8c for a MB of data (out of bundle)
10c for an SMS to another Neotel customer
17c for a voice minute to another Neotel customer
35c for an SMS to another national number

I asked the guy..
“Help me understand how 1 MB of data is 8c but an SMS is 10c”? A converged network where 1 Million Bytes to anywhere in the world is cheaper than ~140bytes on their network?

He answered with some impressive sales waffeling. The guy should have been in politics. He obviously did not know the answer.

Muppets.

If you like this, go read this.

X6

Most people I’ve talked to just don’t like it… the X6.

I think it’s the future, if only it was.. made by Audi (quattro), convertible and electric.

Oh.. and to up the cult value, it should be a 10+ year icon, like the TT or the Herman Miller Aeron.. none of this new model every 4 years crap.

Hate

Keith has this theory that some people create hate to avoid other emotions.
I agree. This resonated again on Friday afternoon.

Makes me think of a trip to Joburg a long time ago..

One of my school friends had an interesting theory about love and hate (and taxi drivers). It comes down to: “too much love makes you gay, hate is healthy”.

I guess you know that “Wear Sunscreen” song.. “Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.”

I guess the same is true about Joburg and Cape Town.

Seems taxi drivers keep you straight.

Weddings and Funerals

I missed Anton’s wedding in Belgium this Saturday, for various reasons.

Seems some people go through these phases of 21st parties and weddings. Not me.

Weddings: 5 (which I can remember going to)
Funerals: 0

Quick Update

Week 4/7. Planning to get a few things done before mid-April.

  • Monday, dropped Mia off at school in SSW, the Pest Busters came to kill off all our pets.. no more ant farming, finally registered for SARS e-filing, spinning.. bumped into Bev, Glen Beach sunset walk.
  • Somebody commented that they find my conversation “refresing”, hmm.. more like strange, actually I figure I keep on blabbering about the same stuff.
  • This made my day.. hero in a halfshell.
  • I seem to have this thing for Sweet Basil these days.. just love the taste.
  • Tuesday, Lions Head walk.. bumped into Dave, Camps Bay beach walk, soccer at La Med (with Andy).. I scored, did some business plan writing.
  • I wonder how people use mobile phones that don’t multi-task?
  • “If you don’t teach your cat about catnip, who will?” — Andy

  • “Sure, but you realise none of them pay any tax right?”

  • Wednesday, took a run from Bakoven to Bantry Bay along Victory road.. I like that area between Clifton and Bantry bay, haircut at B’s, Long Street.. Neighborhood bar with Jonathan, Dave at Julep.. bumped into Sam, turns out Julep and Boo Radleys were started by the same people.
  • It’s scary how much plastic we collect at home… you could build a.. hmm, well I’m sure you could do something with it (-:
  • Tune of the week, mostly Smashing Pumpkins..

    Well, I’ve been afraid of changing,
    ‘Cause I’ve built my life around you,
    Time makes you bolder,
    Even children get older,
    And I’m getting older, too. — Landslide

    The original Stevie Nicks version is also pretty cool.

  • Funny how I feel I’ve processed ideas once I’ve put them on my blog. I can easily find them again and they can leave me alone for a while.
  • Quote of the week: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” — The Whole Earth Catalog and Steve Jobs, Commencement address at Standord 2005

  • Did you ever wonder about his.. Kaapstad vs Cape Town (Kaapdorp)?
  • My todo list and blog notes seem to work like a FILO buffer these days.. I figure it’s because of the excitement factor that dies down after a while.
  • I think I like Princess Walker more than Texas Ranger.
  • Thursday, gym, swim, Boo Radleys, Panama Jacks with Andy, Flora and Olli, Kyoto Sushi Garden.. seems Scott’s new place is almost done.. it’s in Long
    Street next to Joburg.. Ultima Tapa.. on the wall is a big print of Salvador Dali’s “L’ultima cena” (The last supper).
  • Time heals all. Had a chat with Olli.. seems his parents have been apart for 12 years, but it’s still strange having them in each other’s company. Hope we can be civil _and_ friendly in less than 12yrs.
  • Friday, minor car service (free carwash included), spotted the new Q5.. nice, Telkom DC visit.. loved the 70’s floor tile style, Mia time.. looking after number one, Deer Park play area, sunset beachfront drive, watched The Incredibles again.
  • Looking after number one.. I joke about this, but I figure it’s very true. As Mr. Incredible says: She is “my greatest adventure”.
  • “..and that’s not a double standard, it’s just different.” — Warwick, on the topic of child custody arrangements and mothers always assumed to be correct.. the dad has to be in time, but it’s not required for the mother.

  • Finally upgraded my (7) blog farm to WordPress 2.7.1.
  • Saturday, tea, The Incredibles, gym, swim, smoothie, Tinka Tonka toys.. amazing all the little random things you can pick up for R80 in a toy shop.. bless the Chinese, Plinka Plonka play area to pick up a copy of Cape Town’s Child.. kinda focused on groovy Cape Town moms, but I like it, Llandudno Beach with Andy.. nice sunset drive back, watched Wall-e, watched Troy.. not bad.. a bit lame at times.
  • I’ve had this annoying minor ankle injury since the last Suicide Gorge trip.. it was stiff in the mornings and annoying when I ran. I’d say soccer and Power Plate fixed it.
  • “Oh right. You kinda would have thought it would have got it’s own bullet point.” Jonathan, about a romantic mishap.

  • I’ve started reading the Roald Dahl books (which Anton sent) to Mia, she seems to get bored quickly and she wants to read on her own. Maybe I’ll try again soon.
  • Sunday, Biedouw Valley Honeybush Rooibos tea, Monsters Inc, gym, swim.. actually Mia pretty much swims on her own these days.. I just help her dive
    things off the bottom, flapjacks at Knead, Turkish Delight ice cream at Sinn’s, nap, Cozy Bay beach, back to her SSW home, spent some time at the office.
  • “I never did dislike her.” — about other people’s friends.

  • Looking forward to Anton’s wedding in Bettys. I need a hot date. Maybe Mia will be Petr’s hot date.
  • “You had to give it to him: he had a plan. And it started to make sense, in a Tyler sort of way. No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which
    does not matter truly slide.” — Fight Club

  • “Could it be that I’m already free?” — Lark

May your minds be free. May you have a fun week kids.

Vitamin Water

A while ago Desrie from iKineo sent me an email asking if they can drop off a “a product purely for personal consumption”. Cool, free stuff.

Last week I found this big black box on my desk containing 6 bottles of Vitamin Water.

vitwater

 

My comments:

The first thing I noticed was the extreme packaging. Not very environmentally friendly, but bold and striking at first glance. I’m pretty sure the packaging cost more than the contents. Don’t worry kids, I recycle.

At further inspection.. I was not that impressed. These people seem to not know what capital letters are for. Not a single capital letter to be found.. other than the “GLACEAU” brand, all upper case.

The wording on the bottles kinda reminds me of a Ford Fairlane quote: reading it was “like masturbating with a cheese grater: slightly amusing, but mostly painful.” It tries to be cute.. I have no idea who they are aiming this at.

Legally we can’t tell you that after drinking this, thelma from brakpan threw a cement mixer across a rugby field, or that this drink gave william from nelspruit enough strength to stop a speeding train.

I kid you not. They actually write this on one of the bottles.. without any capital letters. What are they thinking? It makes no sense. The wording just does not fit the brand and the product. GLACEAU seems like an international brand.. (yup, energybrands.com, US) then you notice it’s made by Coca Cola, locally.. they spell it “coca-cola” though. So, let me try and understand this: using the word “brakpan” will make me associate with your product? Are you insane?

The orange one (c+calcium) was a bit crap, tasted like watered down Barocca.. and the way it permanently changed the coloured the plastic cap was scary.

One of them tasted very nice. The rest of them tasted OK.

Do I think it’s a cool product? I kinda get the idea and yes, sometimes I get bored and don’t know what do drink. Maybe.

Would I buy it? Maybe, would depend on the price vs the price of standard still bottled water. Then again I realise that even the still bottled water (Valpre) I have on my desk today is now a Coca Cola brand.

In the end Vitamin Water is probably the same RO (municipal) water that goes into Coke and Powerade.. Duff light, Duff standard, Duff extra.. all from the same pipe, just a different brand and price.

I hate Coke. Yeah, you got me, I’m one of those people that just distrust big corporations and governments out of basic principle. Trust has shifted people.

Side note: One company that is doing something right is Clover.. I really like their Vanilla Milk and Aquartz Natural Mineral Water.

Hope that was not too harsh. It’s my honest opinion.

Thanks for the free water (-;

Lame Branding

“Verizon Business SA is now operating as MTN Business.” “Vodacom Business”

Hmm.. does anything about this strike you as lame?

I get that Mweb has Mweb Business.. Mweb == Consumer ISP, so Mweb Business == same kinda thing but for businesses.

What I don’t get is how a mobile phone company adds “Business” to their name and this makes them an ISP / converged connectivity provider.

I can see the ad.. Get a GPS/GPRS/HSDPA tracking collar with built in mobile phone for your dog today.. Epol Business. Connecting Pets.

Muppets.

Ideas are Bulletproof

Speak softly and carry a Big Idea.

It’s been a good day. I feel motivated.. that happiness from forward momentum feeling. Exciting stuff.

I’ve had two really good meetings about my dangerous and scary idea recently.

..change the world, yada, yada, that kinda thing.

“Beneath this mask is an idea and ideas are bulletproof” — V for Vendetta

..well it kinda feels like it today.

The Angry Mob

Had an interesting chat with Jonathan last night. Made me think of this quote..

“Sure we put the factory in the toilet, hundreds of people will be out of work now, not to mention the angry mob that’ll come after us when there’s no power.” — Mike, Monsters Inc.

What if you had an idea that could radically improve on some of the obvious inefficiencies of the world and probably put a large number of people out of work?

Well, it’s happened before. The printing press and the steam engine did this. Then again.. somebody like Ted could come after you.

I still like most of the Ayn Rand logic

I spotted this recently.

I guess Ayn Rand’s Objectivism fits the industrial age way better than the world we live in today.

Even if you are lucky enough to create something pretty close to perfect, like Rand, Knuth and Bernstein, you soon figure out that it’s only perfect for a small time window. The world moves on. I don’t use Tex on Qmail any more.. though I like the ideas behind them and I very much respect where they come from.

To be very honest, I never finished any of the three Ayn Rand books I started reading. Why? Well, I kinda get the message.. preaching to the converted, I get it, I get it already! ..but I love her presence and her power with words, principles and morals. Solid stuff.

I’ve always had this conflict between Objectivist thinking and altruism.

Objectivism is for industrialists. It fits.. if you are building railroads or network infrastructure. Which is what I’ve been keeping busy with, in a formal business capacity, mostly.

It does not fit the world of distributed and open software development.. though the meritocratic aspects of her thinking do gel.

A while ago I attended WordCamp in Cape Town. One thing from Matt’s talk that really made an impact (simple as it may be), is the dual business models of WordPress/Automattic. There is the commercial wordpress.com side and the altruistic wordpress.org side. Brilliant model.

So kids, you can be a hardcore industrialists and a wide eyed for the common good altruist.

Moral High Ground

Today I went for a haircut at Bianca’s.

As I park a parking fee collector (?) walks up to me, looks at me with a blank face and waits for me to say something. Interesting sales pitch.. a bit like that poker game where you hold a card to your head. Anyway, I pay R3.50 for 30min of parking time. Fine.

Nice haircut. Always good to catch up with B.

I get back to my car. The collector is sitting around. I walk by and get in my car. As I’m about to drive away, she stops me and points me at her big black electronic gizmo (the size of 3 Nokia 2110 mobile phones).. I exceeded the 30min I paid for. Ok, the device claims I need to pay for an extra 10min.

She wants R3.50 for 10min. I offer her R1. Nope.

Then I ask, don’t you think it’s wrong that I need to pay R3.50 for 10min. Yes, she answers. It’s wrong, but even 1min costs R3.50.

Ok. Then I ask, what exactly are you going to do if I don’t pay? She suggests she’s going to report me as a non-payer.

To which I respond. Well, you agree that paying R3.50 for 10min is wrong, so don’t do it. Bye.

A few things to ponder:

1) How do they get away with R3.50/30min minimum billing increments? They have an electronic device to work it out. Somebody wrote software for this.. surely the billing model should be more fair.

2) Who made that stupid looking traffic minute counter they carry around? It’s a joke. Maybe the idea is to keep them fit with some basic gravity resistance training.. or it could be some dodgy government contract. Please, you can do all of that math on a much smaller and cheaper device that’s not custom designed and manufactured.

3) R3.50 is expensive for a public parking space compared to what you pay in a mall. Nobody is paying rent for that parking space. In fact, I’m paying tax. Only 11% of people in this country pay income tax. I should park for free dammit!

4) If you want to program your drones with unfair billing logic you have to also equip them with some moral shielding systems. You simply can’t employ people that know right from wrong if you know you are doing wrong.

You could say that this is a form of civil disobedience.. but moral high ground trumps bureaucracy in this poker game.

Cape Town: The Greatest City in Africa

So, I’m running from Bakoven to Bantry Bay this morning, along Victoria road and I spot a news poster: “Cape Town, the Greatest City in Africa”. I think, wow.. I’m very lucky to be living the the most beautiful part of the greatest city in Africa.

A few weeks ago I’m busy cooking up some figure for a press release and I randomly ask “How many provinces does South Africa have?”. I get an answer and.. “Joe, how can you not know that?” To which I respond.. “dude, I live it Cape Town, I live in the first world.”

What’s my point?

1) I love Cape Town. In my mind it’s a first world city. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The fact that it’s on the Africa continent is of minor importance to me.

2) The world has changed. It’s more about community, a sense of belonging and shared ideals than which country you live in.