Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Free online telephone directory for South Africa, and more…

The Phone Book is South Africa's most comprehensive listing of residential, business and government contact details in alphabetical order. 
The information is now also accessible online on http://phonebook.yellowpages.co.zaimageEnter the surname or business name, then (optionally) the city or suburb and then the results are displayed.  You can then search within the results to reduce the hits further:
imageSome businesses also have a ‘free call’ link which rings your phone and connects you to the business:
imageYou can also share the number that you have found:
‘Save it’ to your address book, or FaceBook
’Share it’ allows you to SMS the details to your cell phone, or email it to yourself or others, or Instant Messenger it, or Blog it.

Downloads various toolbars and accelerators as well: http://www.yellowpages.co.za/downloads.jsp
*) Toolbars for Internet Explorer, Firefox.
*) Search Bars for Google Desktop, Windows Vista, Mac OS.
*) iGoogle module.
*) Accelerator: Yellow Pages IE8

Now, if everyone used this service then we wouldn’t need to print and deliver those unwieldy telephone directories to all corners of South Africa!

Other services from the web site is: http://maps.yellowpages.co.za/ to get maps and directions for South Africa.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Free WebHosting, what they don’t tell you

I’ve advertised the free web hosting service “Free web hosting. R0.00 per month with 2x MySQL DBs and php” on 000webhost.com and I’ve recently started using their free service.

The advertising offers: no banner ads, 250MB storage, 100 GB transfer bandwidth, php, 2x mySQL databases, no hidden costs, no restrictive terms, free addon domain, free site backups.
See here for comparison of free vs $4.84 per month offering: Compare plans.

BUT: here are some of the pains that I (and others on their forums) have experienced:
1) Installing Joomla using kickstart (from JoomlaPack) was impossible for me – I reached the file count limit (6,000 files) and the unzip process failed with no decent explanation. 
I even tried ftp’ing the files one by one, but of course that file count limit kicked in again!
2) The Fantastico installer for Joomla didn’t work :( – something about… try again later.
The solution was found on the forums: backup your entire site into a zip file (same file as JoomlaPack used), then use the 000webhost’s ‘site restore’ feature.  This then bypasses the file count limit.
3) Connecting to the MySQL database using a database tool like SqlYog does not work – in fact it’s disabled “due to security and server performance reasons” – as stated in the FAQ.  So, I’ll need to use the phpMyAdmin tool.
4) “Web site is under review” message – I don’t really want my web site to be down periodically (for 2 to 4 hours)!  This is a message that was posted while I was debugging a problem on my web site:

Website Under Review
You see this page, because the system administrator of 000webhost.com is currently checking this website for malicious content. This redirect will be removed once we will finish manually checking all files on this account. As far we check over 100 websites, it can take about 2-4 hours to complete. If you are the owner of this website, you will get email confirmation once it's done. If you are a visitor - please come back later.
www.000webhost.com is a free web hosting provider and all free hosting providers suffer from abusers. Around 5% of users signup here just to start hacking or phishing website or make other damage. So, in order to survive, we must monitor what our users are hosting.
We are sorry for any inconveniences, but checking all content manually, it is the only way to provide you with the most secure and reliable service. If you have found any illegal website on our network, you can report it here.

5) Are there any more surprises on their way??? Please comments - mmmm, and please don’t… please don’t give me the “You get what you pay for” whipping!  I know, I know ;)

Update on 15Jan2010:
The answer to point 5 above is yes, yes, yes… more surprises:
5) The wonderful and powerful JoomlaPack cannot do its magic of backing up the site… it seems because the backup file is larger than 2MB – I don’t remember seeing a file size limitation on their free services offered page, nor on their FAQ page… seems like these people are having similar problems too: 2MB maximum size of a file?
6) Ok, plan B: use 000webhost’s own backup tools in the control panel… BUT, after starting the backup I got an error:

Backup generation failed. Backups usually fail if your disk usage is more than 100MB or your MySQL database size is more than 50MB. Anyway, you can still download files by File Manager or FTP and export MySQL database by phpMyAdmin.

Any my usage was: (from the 000webhost ‘Account Information’):

Usage 107.5 / 1500.0 MB
Your current disk usage is 107 MB of 1500.0 MB.  You are currently using 7% of your disk space and still have 1392.5 MB left.  Disk usage is updated every 24 hours.

So, what’s the point of offering 1.5GB of disk space if you can only backup 100MB of it????  WTF!
Doesn’t this “100MB rule” conflict with their guarantees:

What are your guarantees?
4. All data is backed up at least once every 7 days (just like paid hosting companies do!) and stored on an offsite server. You're also free to back your data up from cPanel whenever you wish.

Oh, I suppose I shouldn’t worry since I “can still download files by File Manager or FTP and export MySQL database by phpMyAdmin.” 
Come on – be real… now it seems like I’m stuck and will need to either:
reduce the size to below 100MB OR live without backups OR upgrade to Silver plan OR ftp the files off 000webhost and find a non-free host service ($5.84 per month – if you pay monthly (incl. free domain registration and renewals = R44 – not bad… compared to other similar services for R100 pm). Risk free, money back guarantee.
Use coupon    2009off    or   WHTop   and get $2 off per month! – so now it’s down to $3.84 paying monthly = R44 monthly.

Send 5 free SMSs per day to any cellular network in South Africa

I just stumbled upon this free service that allows you to send 5 free SMSs (text messages) per day to any of the cellular networks in South Africa: Vodacom, MTN, CellC.  All you need to do is register (for free) and you also get a free email box and free fax-to-email service (free for the receiver, but the sender pays:  see here for more info: Don’t be fooled by this false advertising: “FREE fax to e-mail service”)

So, getting to the point: Register here for your free email account: http://www.webmail.co.za/default.aspx?link=profile_register

Then click on the “Send free SMS” banner advert or click here: http://www.webmail.co.za/default.aspx?link=freesms

While you are there – check out the fantastic competitions page!  Stand a chance to win all sorts of prizes for free: cars, holidays, TVs, furniture, laptops, iPhones, shopping vouchers, airline tickets, PS3, cars, and more at JustPlay:


To send free SMSs to International (and South African) cell phones: Send SMSs anywhere in the world for FREE! (OK, you pay less than 1c for the GPRS costs)

Saturday, 12 December 2009

More full commercial software for free

I’ve found some more full free commercial software from ChipOnline the site is in German but get Google to translate: ChipOnlineEnglish



1) Everest Ultimate version 4.60 [8MB]: Benchmark your PC:  Everest Ultimate
2) Paragon Partition Manager 10 Personal Edition: Paragon Partition Manager 10 Ooops, the 25,000 licenses are all taken :(
3) Full Version: Radio Tracker 6 [1.4MB]: Radio Tracker 6
4) Ashampoo UnInstaller 2010 [12.9MB]: Ashampoo UnInstaller 2010
5) CrazyTalk 5 SE [139MB] funny animation tool that converts portraits into animated faces that accompany voice messages recorded via microphone with the appropriate facial expressions: CrazyTalk 5 SE
6) Full Version: TuneUp Utilities 2009: TuneUp Utilities 2009
7) Full: WashAndGo 2008 [22MB]: WashAndGo 2008
8) Full Version: converter for digital photo frames: Converter for digital photo frames
9) Free eBook Bundle: Office 2007 [25MB]: ebooks for Office 2007, Excel 2007, Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, PowerPoint 2007 to use a professional, Present like a pro with Microsoft PowerPoint 2007: eBook Bundle: Office 2007
10) Steganos Shredder 11 [17.5MB]: Delete files securely: Steganos Shredder 11 (Steganos has released the serial number: 8DBB-9E6D-28ED-BB69-5B23-8F89-2464-CD42)
11) PDFTiger [17MB]: Not worth downloading
12) CyberLink DVD Suite 7 Centra [946MB]:  CyberLink DVD Suite 7 Centra limited to 29,000 licenses

through to 24 will be released one by one, daily… follow CHIP_Download on Twitter to stay in touch with the free giveaways.image

Update on 13Dec2009:
Here’s another treasure trove of free giveaways (in German): http://www.stern.de/digital/adventskalender-sternde-verschenkt-software-1526074.html

Appreciation makes a difference – do it with a blue ribbon

A teacher in New York decided to honour each of her seniors in High School by telling them the difference each of them had made.

She called each student to the front of the class, one at a time. First, she told each of them how they had made a difference to her, and the class.'

Then she presented each of them with a blue Ribbon3 imprinted with gold letters, which read, "Who I Am Makes a Difference."

Afterwards, the teacher decided to do a class project, to see what kind of impact recognition would have on a Community.

She gave each student three more blue ribbons, and instructed them to go out and spread this acknowledgment ceremony. Then they were to follow up on the results, see who honoured whom, and report to the class in about a week.

One of the boys in the class went to a junior executive in a nearby company, and honoured him for helping him with his career planning. He gave him a blue ribbon, and put it on his shirt.

When he gave him two extra ribbons and said, "We're doing a class project on recognition, and we'd like for you to go out, find some time to honour, and give them a blue ribbon.”

Later that day, the junior executive went in to see his boss, who had a reputation of being kind of a grouchy fellow. He told him that he deeply admired him for being a creative genius. The boss seemed very surprised. The junior executive asked him if he would accept the gift of the blue ribbon, and give him permission to put it on him.

His boss said, "Well, sure”. The junior executive took one of the blue ribbons and placed it right on his boss's jacket, above his heart.

And then he asked, offering him the last ribbon, "Would you take this extra ribbon, and pass it on by honouring somebody else.”

The teenager who gave me these is doing a school project, and we want to keep this ribbon ceremony going and see how it affects people.

That night, the boss came home and sat down with his 14-year-old son. He said, "The most incredible thing happened to me today.

I was in my office, and one of my employees came in and told me he admired me, and gave me a blue ribbon for being a creative genius. Imagine! He thinks I am a creative genius! Then he put a blue ribbon on me that says, "Who I Am Makes a Difference”.

He gave me an extra ribbon and asked him to find somebody else to honour. As I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about who I would honour with this ribbon, and I thought about you. I want to honour you.

My days are hectic and when I come home, I don't pay a lot of attention to you-I yell at you for not getting good enough grades and for your messy bedroom.

Somehow, tonight, I just wanted to sit here and, well, just let you know that you do make a difference to me.

Besides your mother, you are the most important person in my life - You're a great kid, and I love you!

The startled boy started to sob and sob, and he couldn't stop crying. His whole body shook. He looked up at his father and said through his tears, "Dad, earlier tonight I sat in my room and wrote a letter to you and Mom, explaining why I had took my life, and I asked you to forgive me.

I was going to commit suicide tonight after you were asleep – I just didn't think that you cared at all.

The letter is upstairs. I don't think I'll need it after all!

His father walked upstairs and found a heartfelt letter full of anguish and pain.

The boss went back to work a changed man. He was no longer a grouch, but made sure to let all of his employees know that they made a difference.

The junior executive helped many other young people with career planning, one being the boss's son, and never forgot to let them know that they made a difference in his life.

In addition, the young man and his classmates learned a valuable lesson.

Who you are DOES make a difference

Please know that I think you are important, or you would not have received this in the first place.

Who you are does make a difference, and I wanted you to know that.

I'm passing the blue ribbon to you.

Have an awesome day, and know that someone has thought about you today!


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

SARS efiling: how to claim for handicapped medical expenses for Asperger’s or other Autism spectrum disorders

A colleague of mine has been experiencing problems up to now claiming medical deductions from SARS for her son that has Asperger’s Syndrome.  She had submitted her 2009 ITR12 income tax return form using the SARS e-filing system and a few days later she received an SMS from SARS indicating that they had refunded her some (no, lots) of money due to her child’s “handicap”. 

Since then she has been asked by numerous people how she did it – and she has asked me to write an article so that others can also benefit from her experience…

She started by reading the ASCON (Asperger's Connections Support Group) web site here: http://www.cs.sun.ac.za/aspergers/bin/view/Main/FinancialInfoimageThere’s an explanation of the tax laws and the definition of a “mental illness”.
There’s a good explanation of what’s allowed as a deduction and there are (SARS and Acts) documents that can be downloaded.
Most importantly, there’s an example letter/medical report that you need to obtain from your child’s psychologist or mental health care practitioner referring to the correct Acts (you need to get this letter every year).

The info below is extracted directly from the Ascon web site (with thanks):
“Claims can include: occupational therapy, speech therapy, medication, school fees (if your child attends a "special school" e.g. Vista Nova, Pro-Ed, etc.), transportation costs to take your child to the special school, tutor/facilitator fees.

Note: school uniforms cannot be claimed (since those would have been needed even if your child wasn't handicapped).

The rule of thumb is "anything you would not have had to spend on an NT dependent, is deductible".

Things do become hazy when you'd want to claim back for computer expenses, private schools, and so on. However, for anything that you have a supporting letter from a certified professional, you can claim. For example, if the OT writes a formal letter that the child should do horse riding, it is deductible. Without the letter, it is not.

Rule of thumb: if you can substantiate expenses that you would not have incurred if you didn't have a handicapped person in your family, then you can claim it.  But when asked about claiming back cost of books, courses and conferences, there was some uncertainty.  So these items seem to be a gray area.
SARS efiling: What to do.... and where to find that field that will tell SARS how much you've spent on your dependant's medical expenses.

It's easiest to register for efiling: http://www.sarsefiling.co.za/ and submit your returns electronically.

Then fill in your Income Tax Return form (ITR12) online,
and on the section called "Medical Deductions" there’s a section that asks for the number of “members per month” MEDIF01.
Mark the ‘Y’ box next to “Are you, your spouse or any of your qualifying children considered to be handicapped?”

Fill in field 4020 for “normal” expenses that are not covered by your medical aid – that’s usually covered by the medical aid’s “Tax certificate”.

Below that,
you will find a field labelled "Handicap expenses (not recovered from your medical aid)" with code "4023":
This is where you fill in the amount that you've spent on your dependant's medical expenses - this is the amount that you are asking SARS to consider as a deduction. {Yes, believe it or not, this one field is the place that could get a portion of your medical expenses back from SARS}
See above for examples of what you can claim as a deduction.

Once you are happy with your return's contents, then press the "File" button and it will be submitted to SARS for assessment.

Wait for your assessment to be done - this should take a week or two and you should then get email (and SMS notification that the assessment has been done). The assessment is called an IT34 and it gives information of how SARS worked out what your Income Tax was for the previous year and whether you've paid too much or too little.

When reviewing your Assessment (IT34), take note that any amount representing a credit balance is followed by a minus (-) sign.... Look for a line that says "Balance of your account as on dd/mm/yyyy".  If it says something like: "Due to you: 10,000.00 - " then start celebrating.... because this means that SARS are going to pay you R10,000 back.

This amount usually takes about 3 days to be transferred into your account.

If you are not happy with the assessment, then you have 30 business days from the date of the assessment to notify SARS in writing of your objection (providing reasons) - use the ADR1 form.
This, and more additional information is provided in the "Notes" section of the assessment form (IT34).

What is a deduction, and how much of my medical expenses can I hope to get back from SARS? This is best explained by example:  Let's say that you are taxed at 40% Once you've calculated the expenses that you've incurred for the Handicap that have not been covered by Medical Aid, let's say R10,000. Then R10,000 can be taken as a deduction which means you can expect to receive 40% of R10,000 = R4,000 back from SARS.
Good luck!

Note:  this page is now out of date - refer to the updated page here which includes a 6 step guide describing the relevant fields on eFiling: http://handytechtips.blogspot.com/2012/09/sars-efiling-how-to-claim-for-medical.html

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Getting around the road closures in Cape Town due to the World Cup Soccer 2010 draw

I’m planning a trip to Sea Point from the Southern Suburbs (Diep River) on Friday night (4th Dec) and that’s exactly when the final draw for the World Cup soccer 2010 competition will be held (@ CTICC).  I was looking for a map – not a list of streets – that show which roads will be closed… Good old 567 CapeTalk radio to the rescue – they have a very readable map of the streets that are going to be affected.

imageimage  image

It took me a (long) while to find the maps on their web site, but after a while I found it by clicking on the “Click here for Roads Affected” button (on the LHS of the screen):  {click on the picture below to go there directly}
image image image  

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Full commercial software for free

I’ve found some more free commercial software available for a limited time:
Register Here and Receive the CD Key to Fully Install CyberLink YouCam 1 available from2009/11/19 to 2010/03/20:

This is only used for CyberLink MediaShow 4 DE available from 2009/11/01 to 2010/03/31: http://www.cyberlink.com/prog/event/bundle/index.do?nEventId=2122

CyberLink PowerDirector available from 2009/09/30 to 2010/02/05: http://www.cyberlink.com/prog/event/bundle/index.do?nEventId=2101

CyberLink PowerDVD available from 2009/10/01 to 2009/11/30: http://www.cyberlink.com/prog/event/bundle/index.do?nEventId=2119 

Paragon Total Defrag 2010 free until 29Nov2009:  http://www.paragon-software.com/free/giveaway.html

Here’s another site that you would want to keep your eye on: http://dottech.org/category/freebies

Friday, 27 November 2009

You want to create a copy of your current hard drive without having to reinstall everything: clone it – Solved!

I’ve often been asked how to replace a suspect hard drive before it fails completely without having to reinstall all the programs and then copy all the data back onto it… well, here’s a free OpenSource solution that clones your hard drive quickly – no, very quickly!


CloneZilla is a super-fast cloning tool that can clone one system to another, or one-to-many (over the LAN) using multi-casting (or broadcasting) technology.

Clonezilla, allows you to do bare metal backup and recovery.

Clonezilla Live is suitable for single machine backup and restore.

Clonezilla SE (Server Edition) is for massive deployment, it can clone many (40 plus!) computers simultaneously.

Clonezilla saves and restores only used blocks in the hard disk which increases the clone efficiency.

Clonezilla supports many file systems including GNU/Linux,FAT, NTFS, HFS+, and more; no matter if it’s 32 or 64 bit.

See here for screen shots: http://clonezilla.org/screenshot/

See here for downloading Clonezilla and instructions on how to create a bootable CD: http://clonezilla.org/clonezilla-live/

I’m sure this will save you lots of time and trouble – consider donating to Clonezilla here: Donate

Update on 28Nov2009:
Here’s another great article listing the “5 Ways to Clone and copy your hard drive” (all free tools) covering: Paragon’s Drive Backup Express (Windows), DriveImage XML (Windows), CloneZilla (cross platform), XXCLONE (Windows), EASEUS Disk Copy (cross platform).

Thursday, 26 November 2009

So, you need an old version of the Java Runtime Engine (JRE)… look in the archive – SOLVED

Took me a while, but finally found the JRE that I was looking for (and a lot more) I was looking for JRE 1_5_0_15 for Windows.
Here’s the Sun Java Technology Products Download page (archive): http://java.sun.com/products/archive/

imageAs you can see, there is all sorts of information listed: J2EE toolkits, JDBC drivers, JDK, SDK, J2RE, JCE, JSSE, JFC, Swing, and more.
Use the pull-down menus to select what you need to download and press “Go”, then the next window will allow selection of your operating system, then download the file:

If you have multiple versions of the JRE on your computer, then use the control panel’s “Java” icon to control which JRE is used by which browser: image

In the “Java Control Panel”:
Click on the “Java” tab, then configure the ‘Java Applet Runtime Settings’ by clicking the ‘View’ button and ticking the JRE version that your browsers should use. 

Then configure the ‘Java Application Runtime Settings’ by clicking the ‘View’ button and ticking the JRE version that WebStart JNLP (Java Network Launching Protocol) files should use:


So, there’s no need to UNinstall the latest version of the JRE if you need to use an older version :)

How to make transparent images (gifs)

I often need to make a transparent image – I figured out that the image type needs to be a .gif file.

My tool of choice – for its simplicity and rich functionality is an old version of Jasc Software’s Paint Shop Pro – yup, it’s old, but it does the trick!   The version that I have was from the Jasc Software days, but I see now that it’s been “absorbed” by Corel.
image   image
Thanks to http://www.hypergurl.com/transparentgif.html  for much of the info below:

Here is a simple technique to make transparent gifs with Paint Shop Pro:

Open an image and click on the ‘Dropper Tool’ image and right click on the image’s background.  This will set the colour palette to match the background colour of your image.

Click on Colours->Set Palette Transparency, then check the option “Set the transparency value to the current background colour”, then click OK, and then save the image as a .gif file.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

I’ve been looking for an English to Afrikaans translation web site…

Since my home language isn’t Afrikaans, and I sometimes get challenged with Grade 5 Afrikaans homework – an online tool is often the last resort.  I’ve found a couple – it’s always useful to have “a second opinion” and these are the ones that I use:

Google Translate:
image What’s nice with Google Translate is that the translations happen in real time – in other words, the Afrikaans translation appears as you type in the English!  Very cool.

Go to the bottom of the page and enter your phrase to be translated.
I see that there’s a limit of 400 words that can be translated – then it stops translating and gives “... A MAXIMUM OF 400 WORDS TRANSLATED!“  Not very nice… :(

This site also has a nice “Chat slang dictionary”, which is very useful when looking up abbreviations or acronyms like “WTH = what/who the heck?” and “ATEOTLYWBAT = at the end of this lesson you will be able to” and more…

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Free domain and web hosting (R0.00) no credit card needed

Yes, I’ve just registered and created my own domain and web site 100% free using 000WebHostHere’s what’s included:
1,500MB disk space, 100GB traffic per month, 5x email addresses, WebMail, PHP, 2x MySQL databases, FTP, cPanel, weekly backups, cron jobs…

There are no hidden costs, no adverts, and no restrictive terms.  Lighting fast speeds, maximum reliability and fanatical user support are just a few of the features you'll receive.

I’m going to create an e-commerce site using Joomla and VirtueMart for a friend who runs a business from home – no start-up fees nor monthly costs – gr8 :)

The web site setup process asks if you want a free (sub-)domain and it creates that for you instantly (yoursite.comli.com)

Click on the image below for more info:

There’s no ssh access, so I’m going to use two Joomla components called JoomlaPack to zip my files, and JoomlaXplorer to unzip via the GUI.

Wow, and I was going to suggest to my friend to pay R100 per month for a basic hosting package…

Is there a catch?  Let me know please – comment or email me HandyTechTipper at gmail.com


Get up to 25% (at least 10%) off at some restaurants in return for filling in an online questionnaire after your meal

Diner’s Delight is a dining club, where members (free membership) enjoy discounts of up to 25% (at least 10% then 5%) from a list of (currently) 35 restaurants (currently) in the Western Cape (South Africa) – soon to be expanded (according to the web site). 
See here for the list of restaurants along with their menus.
imageIn return, you need to complete a short survey (16 multiple choice +1 other) of your dining experience the following day (or at the latest, before you make your next booking).

This information is then passed back to the restaurant, and is used to help improve your dining experience. Diners Delight also gives its members recommendations on new restaurants to try, based on their previous dining experiences.

Once you’ve registered, you can immediately login and book for a restaurant (up to 7 days in advance).  They will then make the actual booking at the restaurant (to let them know the discount that’s applicable) and then will send you an email within 15 minutes.  If the restaurant is fully booked then a Diners Delight restaurant advisor will call you back to make an alternative arrangement.

If you want to book at short notice, then make a call (+27 21 481 7600, or cell: +27 82 337 0962) – they need only 30 minutes notice to book your table. 

Here’s what the booking form looks like (after selecting the restaurant that you want to go to):
Some restaurants prefer different discount structures that varies depending on the day & time:

You can enjoy up to 4 discounted meals per restaurant (as long as the questionnaire is filled in), and the discount will be applied to your entire bill, regardless of how many people are dining with you.  Thereafter you will be entitled to a flat 5% discount at that restaurant for the remainder of the year.

After 12 months, the discount cycle is refreshed, and you can once again enjoy the escalating discounts.

Now to pick a restaurant, and take advantage – I love Doppio Zero at Mandela Square and I see that they’re on the list and offer a 10% discount for the first visit – whoopppeee! 

image image

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