Monday, 25 February 2008

Giveaways (software and games) - on the day

Check out this cool site.... each day they give away licenses for free - yes, it's true - no jokes.

Visit their sites each and every day and download an app or a game, then install it (before 10h00 South African time each morning) and you will have a free, licensed piece of software/game.

Check out other downloaders' comments before you download/install.

[Terms and conditions: No free technical support; No free upgrades to future versions; Strictly personal usage]

Remember: you need to install the software while the offer is still valid (ie. on the day).

Sunday, 24 February 2008

What technology did they use at the Celine Dion concert at Vergelegen on Sat 23 Feb 2008? Evidently, very little!

Getting there
Luckily we decided to leave Muizenberg (Southern Suburbs in Cape Town) early - we left at 16h30 for a show that advertised the gates opening at 18h00.
The traffic was horrendous and I wished that I had allowed my wife to purchase me that GPS for my 40th birthday! We figured out that the Vergelegen area was on the border of the (MapSudio) map book that we had!.. so we had limited info to "play with". We managed to find a back route to Radloff Park and when we heard that the parking was full, we decided to take the first parking that we found! It turned out to be verrrry far from the venue - but once we had realised that, it was too late to turn back.
At last, after a couple of pit stops to dig into our cooler bag, we arrived at a place where people were "queuing" - it must have been a gate... but no signs, no queuing ropes, no signs, no ushers, no signs, just lots of people waiting for the gates to open. This was about 17h15. We decided to find a spot in the shade and wait (outside the Erinvale golf course). There were (I think) "VIP cars" going slowly up and down the road - for a while, until the number of people got too large and the road then clogged it up.... then there were cars trying to use the single lane to go in opposite directions (this should have been a 1 way, and maybe even closed!) Welcome to the mother-of-all traffic-jams! Drivers (including the one-and-only shuttle bus) got stuck in the mayhem.
Police and Ambulance vehicles tried to force their way through with sirens blazing and there was nowhere for the people to move.
Some decided to leave their cars and join the "queue". By this time it was 18h25 and the crowd started "moving"... we abandoned our "place in the shade" (which by now had become over-crowded) and joined the "queue".(in the sun!).

The queuing:
We waited and waited but the queue did not seem to move, then at about 19h05 we noticed that people were going around the crowd and joining the crowd (note, I've stopped using the word "queue" so as not to flatter the "organisers"!) - maybe that was why we weren't moving. We decided to do the same. From our new vantage point, we could see the "gate"! It was a 1.5m opening and only 2 or 3 people seemed to go through every 2 minutes! Every 3 minutes or so we would "shuffle" forwards about 1m - as we got closer to the gate the pressure from behind got more and more. Still, nobody told us if we were at the correct gate! Nobody told us what was taking so long! We looked behind us, and there were lots more people there! How were we all going to get in at this rate? The people behind also figured out that the throughput rate was far too slow. They started chanting "OPEN the gate, OPEN the gate".. this didn't seem to help. We shuffled a few more times, the pressure from behind tweaked up a bit more. Then the people behind started throwing empty bottles.... at least 10 well directed missiles were thrown over the fence and the security "officials" (bear in mind that we had not seen what was behind this gate - there were too many people in front of us. That seemed to do the trick - 2 burly looking policemen appeared from behind the fence and started eying out the missile-throwers! The message seemed to have got through though - the queue moved much faster - they must have scrapped some of their security checks (or whatever was taking so long) and the shuffles became more frequent and before we knew it we were pushed through the still 1.5m gap in the fence. I felt like I had been through a birth canal, but this time it was a journey that I would remember! Our tickets were checked and we were given armbands that matched our ticket zone. The people in front of us figured out (in 2 split seconds) that the blue armbands were the ones to get! They were for the "Golden Circle seats" - in the chaos they managed to convince the "checker-person" that their tickets were "Golden Circle" tickets and they got the coveted blue armbands! Now I understand why some bone fide ticket holders found their seats occupied.... but really, I would have expected that the armbands and tickets would have been checked at the entrance to the "Golden Circle"!

The concert:
From an audio and visual point of view, I was also not very impressed! Perhaps because I was sitting too far back? But I expected to have clear, loud music... instead, I heard poor quality sound - sort of wafting in and out. By "wafting" I mean the loudness and frequency seemed to vary - perhaps it was the wind? I would have had more speakers interspersed in the crowd instead of all speakers by the stage. Same for the large TV screens - they were 4 close to the stage. At least those worked fine. I read a comment on that the AV company was: "Gearhouse".

I've never organised a concert nor an event where thousands are expected but here's what I would have done:
*) Publish route maps so that people could pick a route and change to another if/when that route got too congested. The standard "Vergelegen web site map" is not sufficient! We were listening to the 94.7 FM for (advertised) tips on where to go.... The help we got was limited to "Lourensford Road is closed... I mean it's been congested for a couple of hours, so try and find an alternate route to Radloff Park". This limited info helped us (lot) but could have been more info and more often. Another piece of info that we heard over the radio was: "Radloff Park is full, but don't worry, the Metro Police are directing traffic to other parking areas."
*) Many roads were congested in one direction - they should have had one way roads towards the venue and then reversed these once the concert was over. We were stuck in the parking "lot" for over an hour after the concert had ended - and that's after waiting in the picnic area for at least 30 minutes, and after the time it took to walk to the car (at least 3 Km).
*) Have signs to ensure people were at the correct gates
*) The gates opened too late (they were supposed to open at 18h00 but only opened at 18h25) - they should have opened much earlier [I believe tonight the gates are opening at 16h00]
*) There were too few gates (I know of only 2 gates!) and too few staff at these gates. There should have been many, many more gates (at least 20 per entrance). The queues outside should have been managed by placing fencing or ropes (and ushers) to ensure that nobody pushed in.
*) Have loud hailers/loudspeakers at the gates to let the public know where to go and what to do.
*) I saw 1 helicopter in the air - but who knows whether it was part of the "organising team". I would have used a helicopter or two "wired up" to the 94.7 FM radio station for reports every 15 minutes. They crew could also have assisted the traffic team to close and open more roads.
*) Don't tell the public not to bring in food and drink! We took the "risk" of packing a cooler bag with water and snacks for our picnic. We decided that the R300 for a packed picnic basket was a bit too much for our liking. We found out that the basket consisted of a bottle of wine, chicken roll, and a rotten apple! Good choice batman! I felt for the people that did not bring their food and drink - they had to queue to purchase (and get ripped off! R70 for a bottle of wine) - then they had to find their way back to their family and friends! Without that GPS it was virtually impossible. There were people on their cell phones trying to direct their loved ones back to their "nest". Some people resorted to waving flashing torches so that their "food bringer" could find their way back! As it got dark, these food gatherers could not see where they were walking and they fell over revellers' feet. One poor picnic'er had her glass of wine crushed when a "food bringer" landed on top of her! This food gatherer apologised profusely, but then disappeared into the crowd! :)
*) Have more traffic officers to control the traffic: closing roads, making more 1 way streets, manning busy intersections, making more turning lanes
*) Use shuttle buses to take people from the parking lots to the venue - the shuttle routes need to be for shuttles only so that there's no chance of congestion.
I'm sure there are a lot more ideas where technology could have helped reduce the chaos!
On a more positive note - Celine is really a great performer and it was very enjoyable (once we got into the venue). The moon rose over the Helderberg Mountains at about 21h45 and the wind died down and it was very comfortable.

Apologies to Celine Dion - she deserves better!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Beware... these criminals are phishing now! Never reveal your alarm codeword

Here's some advice from our neighborhood watch:

Beware of Telephone Scams/Cons - NEVER divulge alarm or personal details!
Following the reporting of various incidents listed below, note that you should never provide the password of your burglar alarm/armed response system to anyone over the telephone unless you are absolutely certain that your alarm has triggered and you are therefore expecting a call from the response control call centre. This caution should be made known to all family members and any others who have been provided with your password. If ever you are concerned that your password has been given to someone who should no longer be in possession of the information (example - former employee) then arrange to change the password immediately via the correct channels at your service provider. Never provide your ID number of other confidential details over the telephone to anyone.

Case 1 - This evening I received a telephone call from 'my alarm company' at 22:24 saying that my alarm had just gone off and asking for my codeword in order, I presume, to cancel armed response. I was suspicious as my alarm was not yet set, but the lady 'controller' confirmed that she had received an alarm notification and repeated that she wanted my codeword. I asked when the alarm had been triggered and she said right now at 10:24pm. I refused to provide my codeword as the circumstances did not appear to warrant it. She said Ok and hung up. I then checked with the Security control room to find out whether they had in fact called. The controller asked all her colleagues in the control room whether or not they had called me, either in my own right, or as keyholder for a neighbour. She confirmed that no one in the control room had initiated the call to me. This is worrying as it would indicate that persons unknown are trying to 'Phish' for the codewords of the unwary and as I have an unlisted number, this is particularly disconcerting. I can only imagine that knowledge of this information would allow these persons to break into one's house, set off the alarm, then provide the necessary codeword to prevent armed response from responding.

Case 2 - My daughter, 20 years old, was phoned by a lady stating that this was "a courtesy call from ?? Bank". The caller had my daughters details - initials, surname, address, but asked her for her ID number - which she very willingly gave. Fortunately she was not asked to give any of her banking/card details. I immediately contacted the Bank where she has her account who verified that to their knowledge my daughter had not been telephonically contacted. They also apparently do not ask for ID details over the phone. Who knows what implications this will have in the future. Someone now has my all my daughters details and ID number illegally obtained. Scary situation.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Update: Anti-theft/anti-crime web site:

Here's an update to my blog on 5th Feb 2008:

In the recent cases of mugging and theft of cell phones and other crimes, etc. etc. etc.... the victims would have tried to broadcast to all 2nd hand shops etc. that their belongings were now possibly going to be sold on the second hand market.....and to please contact the police if someone tried to flog their belongings to them. In fact, I heard one victim's husband calling the radio (Cape Talk 567) to notify people to watch out for his wife's Garmin watch.
In most cases, I am bold enough to assume, the serial numbers were not known....
If these people had used the web site then it would have been easy to:
1) tag their items as stolen immediately after their unfortunate incidents; and
2) to also use the site to "remember" the serial numbers and report these to the police or other parties.

Some people have raised the concern of putting their possessions' details on the Internet - one must realise that the items are viewable by the general public only after you have tagged it as stolen. All other items and details are hidden from the public.
In any case, if you are nervous, then only provide the web site with your email address as the means for contacting you if/when an item of yours is recovered.
ie. don't provide any other details to the web site, and nobody will be able to link the list of items to you. In fact, when recording your goods, include as few details as you are comfortable with e.g. "TV in main bedroom": serial number: A34567890.
If it gets stolen, then update the details to something like: "Sony Vega 54cm colour TV" and tag it as stolen (and get the serial number A34567890 from the web site in case you need it for insurance purposes etc.)

Second hand stores like Cash Converters do not like stolen goods in their stores - it's a big problem when the police confiscate stolen goods from them: they lose money and lots of time trying to explain to the authorities where/who they got the goods from. They would also prefer to keep their reputation clean so that the general public use their stores to purchase legitimate products.
I have heard of certain store managers that have suspected that the goods were stolen and executed citizens arrests - the police were called and the law took its course...

At present there is no live system to publish lists of stolen goods to second hand stores. They rely on the victims and police faxing them the details/photos of the stolen goods. You can imagine how slow and inefficient this is! is an attempt to provide an up-to-date system where people can immediately broadcast what's been stolen, and for the purchasers to check before purchasing stolen goods and so, hopefully, stop fuelling this vicious cycle of the stolen second hand goods market.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Wait Just a Minute: How to Defer Sending of Outlook Email

Have you ever clicked the Send button in Outlook and then thought, "Oh, no! I forgot to say x" or "Yikes - I forgot to change the email address to send this privately instead of to the whole mailing list" or even "Oops - maybe I shouldn't have sent that rant to my boss at all"?
Probably most of us have had a similar experience.
What if you could tell your computer to just wait a minute before sending, giving you a chance to have those second thoughts and rescue your mail (and in some cases, yourself)?
Well, if you use Outlook as your mail client, you can.

Here's how:
Method 1)  
 {this method will defer delivery on a per message basis}
For each email that you send, you can set a date and time when it should be sent:  Type your email message, then click on View->Options, then under "Delivery Options" tick the "Do not deliver before" item
then select the date and time that you want the email to actually be sent.  {It will remain in your OutBox and will be sent at the scheduled time (as long as you are connected to the Internet).

And/OR use this method:
Method 2)  {this method will defer delivery for all messages}
In Outlook, click the Tools menu and select Rules and Alerts.
Click the New Rule ... button.
In the Rules Wizard dialog box, click “Start from a blank rule”.
Under Step 1, select “Check messages after sending”.
Click “Next”.
Don't select any conditions so the rule will apply to all messages, and click “Next” again.
Click “Yes” when asked if you want the rule to apply to all messages.
Under "Step 1: What do you want to do with the message?", select “Defer delivery by a number of minutes”.
Under "Step 2: Edit the Rule Description," click "a number of" and set the “Deferred delivery” setting to 1 minute. Click “OK”.
Click “Finish”.
Now when you hit “Send”, the message will remain in your Inbox for a minute, giving you a chance to recall it or change it.

Thawte e-mail certificates: Get yourself a trusted e-mail certificate - and get certified, painlessly!

The issue of digital e-mail certificates is often raised. I would like explain the what, why and how around it so more of you can make use of this service.
Also, you can get certified and get the certificate issued in your own name.

What is it?
An email certificate is an electronic signature that binds your identity to a public key used in cryptography to either prove the validity of an email you have sent, or encrypt it so that others cannot read it, or both.

Signing an email document will prove to the recipient that the email was sent by the person in the “To” field and that it was not tampered with.  You will see a digital "seal" icons used in both the mail list and the message view windows of Outlook and Outlook Express. The state of this image, hovering over it, or simply double-clicking it, will reveal if the email is indeed valid and still unchanged from when it was sent. Please note that mail servers that add a company disclaimer to the end of e-mails will invalidate the seal.

Encrypting an e-mail document will ensure that only the intended recipient will be able to read the message. The message is encrypted using your certificate (using the private key) at the sender's side and decrypted at the recipient side (using your public key). There is actually more to it, but too technical for this discussion. Trying to decrypt an encrypted message using brute force, without the proper encryption keys, will typically result in days, if not years, of desktop PC computing power.

Read more about it at Wikipedia -

How do I get it?
Thawte, the company Mark Shuttleworth sold to Verisign, can issue you a free, personal e-mail certificate. All you need to do is browse to Click on the "Click here" link at the bottom of the page and follow these steps:
• accept the license conditions
• furnish your personal details
• specify your PRIMARY email account (used for login purposes)
• set your language preferences
• set your password details
You will receive a confirmation email. Follow the steps and registration should be complete. If you don't want to be certified (see below), skip to the "How do I get a new certificate" section.

How do I get certified?
The Thawte personal e-mail certificate is issued to a fictitious "Thawte Freemail Member" identity when you first apply for one. The Thawte Web-Of-Trust (WOT) is a community-based certification system whereby your identity can be validated against your Thawte username. This is done by appearing before a Thawte Notary and gaining Trust Points.

50 Trust Points allow you to get the certificate issued in your own name.
100 Trust Points allow you to become a notary, whereby you in turn can assert users by awarding 10 Trust Points. It will gradually increase to 35 Trust Points as you assert more people.

If you want to be accredited, ensure that you have provided your ID details. This can be done in the Personal E Mail Certificate section (>Main Menu->Products->Free Personal E-mail Certificates), selecting My Account then Edit ID info. Use "ID Document" as National Identity Type and furnish your ID number.

You will now need to find a notary to accredit you. You can find notaries in your area by going to the Web-Of-Trust section (>Main Menu->Products->Web-Of-Trust) and selecting Find a Notary in the left menu, or go here ( for the South African list. You will need contact the notaries listed there, make your details available to them and go and see them personally.

Alternatively, I am also a notary and able to award 35 Trust Points. There are another 3 notaries in Somerset West and they can award you another 35 points each.

How do I get a new certificate?
I will assume you would like to use your certificate in Outlook. Using Internet Explorer (very important), go to the Thawte Personal E-mail Certificate section (>Main Menu->Free Personal E-mail Certificates), under Certificates (left menu), select Request Certificate (you must be logged to access this menu).
Proceed as follows:
• Select the X.509 certificate request option
• Select IE, Outlook and Outlook Express option
• Leave selection on "No employment information"
• Select your email address(es) for the certificate
• Accept default extensions
• Select Microsoft Enhanced Cryptographic Provider v1.0
• You will now get 2 popup dialogs, select Yes, then OK
• Select Finish.
A confirmation email will be sent to you. Follow the links in the email. Ensure that you open the link(s) in the message body using Internet Explorer! You may, alternatively, go to the Thawte Personal E-mail Certificate section (>Main Menu->Free Personal E-mail Certificates), under Certificates (left menu), select View Certificate Status, click on the certificate name (i.e. MSIE) and select Fetch. You should receive another 2 popup dialogs as the certificate is installed.

How do I use it?
In Outlook, create a new message. Select Options, then Security Settings. Select the desired options at the top of the dialog.

In order to send an encrypted email, you should first obtain and install the certificate(s) of the intended recipients. This can easily be done by requesting those people to send you a signed email (using their certificate). Once you have received the e-mail, right-click the FROM address in Outlook and select Add to Outlook Contacts. The user details, together with the certificate, will be installed in your contact list. You can even perform this step if you have an existing contact entry - Outlook will simply update the information.

This should enable you to get started with your personal email security.

Don’t be fooled by this false advertising: “FREE fax to e-mail service”

The False advertising:

Dear reader
Are you still faxing the old-fashioned way? If you are, you are probably wasting time, money and resources.

Company XYZ [like SABC, ITweb, etc.] is pleased to offer you, our valued reader, a free fax to e-mail service.
Through a partnership with fax2email, a digital fax solution service provider, we are pleased to offer you:
• Your FREE fax number (no hidden costs),
• Faxes delivered directly to your inbox.
• This digital fix to fax problems will also free up ports on your company switchboard and save on fax line rentals, save on paper and ink, allow you to enjoy multiple fax to e-mail numbers per company and send e-mail attachments to fax machines.

For instant activation, click here….. [yeah, right!]

The Truth:
Well, it is true that it is free to the person receiving the fax by email, BUT, it is not free to the person sending the fax. In fact, these 0866 or 0865 numbers are charged at premium rate i.e. over R2 per minute…. That’s over double the cost of a national call.

If you think that 0860 calls are toll free, or that 0861, 0862, 0863, 0866, 0865 calls are charged at local rates, then you need to read the following for more information:

Need help identifying the owner of a commercial SMS or short code?

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See here for a full list of stores and their cash-backs:

Membership is free and anyone can sign up and start earning cash back immediately.
To earn R10 on their referral program click here [terms and conditions apply!]

Skype 20% discount
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Digital Planet 4% discount
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Musica 8% discount
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Loot 4% discount
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CNA 7.2% discount
CNA is a popular store selling books, music, dvd`s, games and stationery.

AutoPedigree 1.13% discount
Over 2000 Cars to Choose From Auto Pedigree houses the largest second hand stock pool in the country.

The Wooden Bowl (apologies - it's not technical, but everyone should read this!)

This will make you think and you will remember this tale for the rest of your life.  I guarantee you will remember the tale of the Wooden Bowl tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year old grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table.

But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult.  Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor.  When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. "We must do something about father," said the son. "I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor."

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.  There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl!

When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometime he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.
One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, "What are you making?"
Just as sweetly, the boy responded, "Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up." The four-year-old smiled and went back to work .

The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

On a positive note, I've learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things: a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
I've learned that, regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.
I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life…"
I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.
I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.
I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to BE one.

I've learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.

People love that human touch -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn!

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my Friend.

Anti-theft/anti-crime web site:

A colleague of mine has launched a web site that will attempt to kill the stolen goods market - if everyone in the neighbourhood registers (for a small annual fee, I think it's R50 per annum), then I'm sure it will go a long way to stopping theft and crime.

In short, when you are a victim of theft, the first thing you want to do is publish what was stolen so that anyone (with morals) can check before purchasing the "second hand" goods.
One way of doing that is to go onto the radio/mass media and tell everyone - this obviously could work, but it has a limited, once-off audience.
A better way of doing it would be to make a record (on the web site) of all the serial numbers etc. of your valuable possessions and when anything gets stolen you flag these items as stolen on the web site so any potential purchaser can search before purchasing. A reward can also be offered for the return of the goods!
Second hand stores like Cash Converters etc. are being encouraged to use the web site (for free) and check before purchasing the goods.

I would like to encourage everyone in our Neighbourhood watch area to register and start logging their possessions, and so help kill the stolen goods market!

Read here for more info:

Check out their web site for other free services like: KeyFinder:

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Copyright © 2008 HandyTechTipper. All articles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 South Africa license, unless where otherwise stated.