Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Only 12 hours to go to pre-purchase that electricity before the 31.3% increase at midnight (later tonight)

There's only 12 hours to go before you'll be paying 31.3% more for your electricity. Here's some additional info if you benefit from getting free units per month for low usage clients:
As heard on Cape Talk this morning (Aden Thomas's show):
For low usage clients: If you load up your meter now, then you can still get your free units per month if you still purchase some units per month - so go to www.energy.co.za (or go to your local electricity vendor) and buy just R5.00 to get your free units - and do that once per month.
Note: HTT has not verified this practise.
Note: www.energy.co.za allows up to R2,000 per transaction, but multiple transactions are allowed (up to your credit card's limit of course)

{Low usage clients means: if you are on ‘Domestic 2‘ (i.e. low consumption: less than 600 kWh per month), then you qualify for 50 free units per month.}

Remember, if you've already got your free units this month, then your purchases will seem "more expensive" (ie: you won't get as many units as when you had purchased your electricity earlier this month).

See here for more detailed info:
Load your meter now, plus energy saving tips

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Are you coming to the FIFA World Cup 2010?: How to get connected while you are in South Africa

The FIFA Confederations Cup is almost over (Good luck to USA and Brazil in the final game).
If you are one of the lucky football fans who will be coming to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup Soccer tournament, then you will need to get your mobile phone connected to the Internet while you are here.

HandyTechTipper (HTT) has travelled to foreign countries and it is most frustrating when arriving and not being able to connect to the Internet for Instant Messaging and VOIP services on my cell phone (like Fring, or NimBuzz or Skype, or GMail) and laptop (VOIP buster).
So, here are some considerations and steps to get your phone configured when you arrive in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup Soccer tournament.

Use a local cellular provider:
although South African cellular networks have roaming agreements with most other countries, it will be much cheaper to purchase a South African PrePaid SIM card and use that in your cell phone. {A SIM card is a thumbnail sized microchip that snaps into the back of your cellular phone and activates service on a specific local network.}

In South Africa there are 4 cellular networks (
Vodacom, MTN and CellC, Virgin Mobile) and all are able to provide voice and data connections (GPRS, Edge, 3G, 3.5G (HSPA)).

Most International Mobile phones work in South Africa (make sure that the phone is not SIM-locked and is GSM 900 compatible) - just insert a local South African SIM Card - they are available at all supermarkets for
less than R5.00 (although some web sites say that it's as much as $30).
Don't forget to purchase some airtime as well (R50 should be fine to get you started - the cost per MB is about R2.00)

The SIM card will give you: a local cell phone number in South Africa, and free incoming calls, and free Voicemail, access to send and receive SMS (text messaging), with no yearly contract, no monthly charges nor credit checks.

Mobile phones can be hired at airports or cellular shops at approximately R12/day, but
I would suggest bringing a spare phone with you: 1 for your foreign SIM card, and the other for the local SIM card (for connecting to the South African cellular network for local calls and Internet access).

If you have a laptop, then
remember to bring your phone's cables so that you can use it as a modem and connect your laptop to the mobile phone and so to the Internet. See here for more info.

Don't forget your phone's charger and headset either!

Why is it cheaper to use a South African SIM card instead of your foreign SIM card?

It's obviously more convenient to "roam" with your foreign GSM phone (and use the same foreign number), but there are plenty of problems with this approach:

Your GSM phone might not work in South Africa;

It will be expensive for you. You'll be paying anywhere from $1 to $6 per minute for every phone call you make or receive.

Although it will be convenient for friends and associates back home (and in South Africa) to call you – they simply dial the number they already have –
but this means you'll be paying for all these non-essential calls, also at the same $6 per minute rates.
Note: You will be paying for the calls that your friends make. They pay for the local leg of the call, and you pay for the long distance (expensive) leg of the call. However, when you call your South African friends, then you pay local call rates (same rate as if you were calling a mobile number in your home country.)

It will not be convenient for anyone in South Africa to call you. Even though you might be in the next hotel room, they will have to call your foreign number to speak to you – making it an expensive international call for them as well as you.

If you use the South African SIM card then SMS your new number to your friends at home and in South Africa (SMS for free) - then they can call you and they pay for the calls... and you pay local rates for Internet access and to call your South Africa friends.

Use your foreign cell phone and SIM card for emergencies only.

The SIM card (and monetary credit) stays active for 12 months, so if you're visiting South Africa again, you don't need to buy a new SIM for each visit.

Some people store their contact numbers on their SIM card - that mean that when the SIM card is removed, then all the numbers are "lost" - so remember to copy your numbers onto the phone - or sync them to your PC then print them out for easy reference while travelling.

So, you've purchased your SIM card and airtime - here's what to do next:

Setting up voice calls:

Turn your cell phone off and insert the SIM card.

Turn the cell phone on and enter the PIN if it asks for one (should be in the SIM card's packaging, usually 00000 {5 zeros}).

Load the prepaid airtime into the cell phone - explanation should be on the transaction slip.

Customer service for your Pay as you Go prepaid SIM card is available 24 hours a day by dialing (Vodacom: 111; MTN: 173; CellC: 140) at any time from your South Africa cellular phone. You can also dial (Vodacom: 082 111; MTN: 083 173; CellC: 084 140) from any phone other than your South Africa cell phone.

For emergencies while using your local South African GSM SIM card in South Africa: dial 112 from your cell phone.

*You will need to snap out the thumbnail sized South Africa SIM card along the perforated edge of its holder and then insert the SIM card into your cell phone with the gold contacts of the SIM card facing the metal contacts of your cellular phone.

^The PUK is only required to unblock your phone if you enter a PIN code incorrectly 3 times. Follow your cell phone manual instructions to correctly use the PUK to unblock your phone.

**When calling overseas from the United States to your South Africa cell phone, callers will need to dial 011 followed by country code 27 and your South Africa cell phone number, omitting the first 0 (zero). To call abroad from your South Africa cell phone simply dial 00 followed by the country code and phone number.

Setting up for data connectivity:

See this post for
setting up your phone to connect to South African Data connection
Note: for high data usage - you can purchase data bundles which will reduce the cost from R2 per MB.

Dial *111#, free from your Vodacom cellphone for self-help activities such as checking your balance, buying Data or SMS Bundles, downloading cellphone settings or transfer airtime.
See here for more info.
See here for Vodacom bundle rates:
Data bundle costs (Vodacom)

Good luck! and enjoy the soccer 2010!

1 more tip: Beware of Hotel Phones:

There are lots of horror stories about huge hotel phone bills. You can find yourself paying up to $10/minute just to call back to the US if you use the phone in your hotel room. Even calls across town can sometimes cost $1/minute. So, rather use your cell phone (loaded with the local SIM card) or use a public phone.

This is amazing!: Perceptual Experiment: can you count the correct number of ball passes?

I was blown away by this experiment. But, be warned - only try this when you have lots of time - you will want to try it out on all of your friends and colleagues!
This is a short, but fascinating two-part test of your perceptual abilities. For the first part, you will be shown a 30-second video of six college students divided into two teams. Three students are wearing white T-shirts, while the other three are wearing black. Each team has a basketball which they are passing to members of their team.
Your task is to count the number of passes made by the team wearing white T-shirts. Click the first link below to watch the video and then return here for part two.

One gender has proven to be more perceptive. Which do you think it is?

Once you have the number of passes, click the second link for the answer.

Go here to try it out for yourself:
The Perceptual Experiment by the PEERS Websites and The Transformation Team

I think the perceptual test is a brilliant way of illustrating to me that I won't always believe everything I see!

It's visual perception, subliminal perception all together.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Firearms license: gun owners have more time with their firearms until the court tests the validity of The Firearms Control Act

News24 reports "Gun owners get reprieve": News24

So, firearm licenses that were obtained under the old Arms and Ammunition Act (the green gun licenses) will be deemed valid for the time being (until the court tests the validity of The Firearms Control Act).

This does not mean that you can still apply for a license renewal (under the recent new South African gun laws) - it only means that you can't be arrested if you have your firearm after 1st July. So, for those that didn't apply for their license renewal, there's no need to hand their firearms in... yet.

Other HTT articles on the new South African gun license laws:
6th May2009: Deadline missed... now what?: for firearm owners who didn't renew their licenses
Find out (online) what those Government departments are talking about when they refer to Section xyz of Act no. nnnn of 1972

Friday, 19 June 2009

SQuirreL SQL Client: how to save your connection alias list

SQuirreL SQL Client is a great graphical Java program... but setting it up on a new PC (or a colleague's) can be tedious.

So, HTT went behind the scenes (the Windows scenes) to see where it stores the alias connection info.

Using FileMon the file's location was found to be in your 'Documents and Settings' folder eg: "c:\Documents and Settings\HTT\.squirrel-sql\SQLAliases23.xml"

So, save that file and give it to your colleagues or new laptop and that should save you a lot of time.

BTW: if you use mySQL, then here's another great SQL client: SQLyog

There's even a 'Community edition' - see here for the differences: Compare Enterprise vs. Community

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Buy a Vodacom 5MB MyMeg data bundle for R9.25 and get 25MB for free.

Buy a Vodacom 5MB MyMeg data bundle for R9.25 and get 25MB for free. So, that's 30MB for R9.25 = 31c/MB
If you buy a bundle... then you already have the 25MB added to your account.

If you buy a bigger bundle then they add on 10% for free (whichever is the larger... so you get a minimum of 25MB for free)

See here for more info: http://ow.ly/b2nS

Valid from 01June2009 to 31Aug2009

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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.