Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Creating symbolic links on MS Windows

If you've ever worked on Unix or Linux computers then you'll appreciate the power of creating symbolic links (virtual links). This is similar to Shortcuts, but a symbolic link actually lists the files and folders as if they were in the local folder.

This is useful for backing up files that are actually located all over your HDD. You just point your backup program to a single location and create symbolic links (or junctions) in that single folder.

Thanks to Mark Russinovich for this program. See here for more and to download his program [45KB]:

Examples (from the above page):

Usage: [-s]
-s    Recurse subdirectories

To determine if a file is a junction, specify the file name:
junction c:\test

To list junctions beneath a directory, include the –s switch:
junction -s c:\

To create a junction c:\Program-Files-IsAJunction for "c:\Program Files":
C:\>md Program-Files-IsAJunction

C:\>junction c:\Program-Files-IsAJunction "c:\Program Files"

To delete a junction, use the –d switch:
junction -d c:\Program-Files-IsAJunction

Adding Hibernate button to the shutdown screen (so, no need to press the Shift button)

To show the "Hibernate" button when you click "Start->Turn Off Computer", follow these steps:

1. Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.
2. Locate and then click the following registry subkey:
3. Right-click Windows, point to New, and then click Key.
4. In the New Key #1 box, type System, and then press ENTER.
5. Right-click System, point to New, and then click Key.
6. In the New Key #1 box, type Shutdown, and then press ENTER.
7. On the Edit menu, point to New, and then click DWORD Value.
8. In the New Value # 1 box, type ShowHibernateButton, and then press ENTER.
9. Right-click ShowHibernateButton, and then click Modify.
10. In the Value data box, type 1, leave the default Hexadecimal option selected, and then click OK.
11. Quit Registry Editor.

If you haven't enabled Hibernate on your PC then do the following:
To enable hibernate support perform the following:
Start the Power Options control panel applet (Start - Settings - Control Panel - Power Options)
Select the Hibernate tab
Check the 'Enable hibernate support' box
Click here to view image
Click Apply then click OK

What is Hibernate?
Hibernate allows the machine to save its current state to disk and then power off. When you power the machine back on it will reload its old state meaning any applications and files that were open will still be running and you will lose nothing.

What hibernate does is dump the contents of memory to a file, c:\hiberfil.sys (which is slightly bigger than the amount of memory in the machine).

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Free icons: miscellaneous, flags, etc.

Thanks to Mark James for these free icons. The icons include report icons, some new picture icons, some small XHTML/CSS buttons, and some hardware drive icons, and more....

His work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License. See here for more: Free to use license

Free silk icons:
Smooth, colourful icons for any purpose

Free flag icons:
Country flags. Small and plentiful

Free mini icons: Over 140 pixelicious web icons in GIF format

If you like them, then why not show your appreciation by donating something: Donate

Monday, 20 July 2009

Are you tuned in to "Cape Town TV" - the free TV channel (no decoder required)?

You might think this is old news, but most people that I speak to are not aware of a free channel on the air that doesn't need a decoder or satellite dish. CTV (Cape Town TV, not CTV Canada) has been broadcasting in Cape Town since 1st Sept 2008 and also broadcasts Al Jazeera news 2 hours per day. The main issue that I had was tuning my VCR away from CTV's channel. This problem is due to CTV being given the same channel (38) as most VCRs use. See here for more background info:

If you have this problem, then the simplest solution is to turn OFF your VCR when you want to tune in to CTV (and of course when you want to watch CTV). When you turn on your VCR, then CTV will be interfered with and will not be watchable.
Once you have sampled CTV's offering, then you might want to retune your VCR so that you can record CTV.

Cape Town TV is dedicated to providing the people of Cape Town with a television service that is entertaining, informative and educational.
The channel is run by a non-profit organisation and is licensed as a community television station.

There's a fair amount of repeat programs but some real gems like conspiracy theory-type programs - very, very interesting... even with the poor reception that we have.

Go on... give it a try...
1) Turn off any VCRs and decoders
2) Pick an unused channel on your TV and tune it into channel 38, and voila, 1 more free channel to add to your bouquet.

See here for a coverage map and instructions on how to tune in:

See here for CTV's schedule: and to see when Al Jazeera is broadcast.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Beware, reports of the Lotto machines allegedly not reading cards and barcodes correctly could dupe you out of millions!

A couple of callers to CapeTalk radio station the other night (16th July) warned the public to check their Lotto cards - both when submitting their numbers and also when checking if it was a winning card. The allegedly faulty readers were blamed on the poor servicing of the machines causing the barcode readers to misread the cards and tickets. This means that if your local store's machine has this problem then you and I could be badly affected and contribute to the unclaimed funds.

The barcodes are used at the start and end of the Lotto process ie: when you choose your numbers and when you check if you are a winner!

So, say you choose numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6... the allegedly inaccurate barcode readers might register 11,2,3,4,5,6 (or whatever, but not what you wanted)... then again, when you check your card for winners.. if the winning numbers are 1,2,3,4,5,6.... it might read your card as 11,2,3,4,5,6 and you could lose out on winning millions!!!!

The first caller told of her experience: she was pretty sure her ticket was a winning ticket and took it to the local store for cashing in... but when it was passed through the barcode reader there was no winning flagged :( So, she went home (with her ticket luckily) and checked the newspaper again. Sure enough it was definitely a winning ticket - so she went back to the store. She was again told that it was not a winner. She then insisted that the teller punch in the numbers into the machine manually. Sure enough the ticket was then "seen" as a winner!

A second caller
was a Lotto vendor and also agreed with the first caller and added a further "twist" - saying that a few clients had also complained that the readers were inputting incorrect numbers ie: the six numbers scribbled into the input form were not read correctly and so not entered onto the official ticket correctly. So, this had to be redone manually. The vendor also complained that the machines were not serviced often enough.

So, some advice from HTT:

1) Make sure that the numbers that you scribble onto the card are in fact on your official ticket - the ticket is what counts when it comes to winning the money.
After the draw, check your ticket against the winning numbers (don't rely on the barcode reader to tell you if you're a winner)

If the teller says you're not a winner then take the "losing" ticket with you - don't leave it with the teller to (perhaps) manually enter the numbers later (and claim the prize for him/herself)

Use HTT's Lotto calculator: Check your past Lotto and LottoPlus tickets against all the past draws

Perhaps this is why there are so many unclaimed prizes - please add your comment below and let us know if this problem really exists and how widespread it is.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Investec fees go up from R175 to R250 per month... bye bye Investec Private Bank

From 1st Aug 2009 the monthly fees will go up. I think it's time (for me) to move to a lower fees bank - granted, the Investec service is very good, and there are lots of things bundled in, but I think I'm a low usage client (monthly count: Debit orders: less than 8, EFT payments: less than 10, Withdrawals: less than 5, Deposits less than 5)

Also, I'm not using a lot of the bundled in services and products.

I've looked at Capitec and FNB.

See here for
Capitec's fees

See here for
FNB's fees

See and for an extensive list of accounts comparison tools and calculators.

I like Capitec's fees, but there are
too few Capitec ATMs and branches for me to be comfortable. This will push my fees up.

I like the FNB "Unlimited Option" - but it does have "limits".... but I will make an effort to get to know them.

So, for R89 per month, I can save a bit... ummm, that's R161 less per month, that's R1,932 per annum. Less the "noted" items below - I guess, I'll save R1,400 per annum (or R117 per month):

Things that I need to watch out for:

  • Card replacement fee R55 - OK, noted... I haven't lost a card (yet)
  • R50 for a bank guaranteed cheque - OK, noted
  • R25 for a stop payment - OK, noted
  • 85c per SMS notification - OK, noted
  • International ATM withdrawal: R25 - OK, noted
  • Debit interest rate: Investec Card is 10%; DiscoveryCard interest rate is 28.7%.
  • No free access to airport lounge
  • Balance alerts and payment notifications are charged for @ FNB
  • Make sure I use FNB ATMs for deposits and withdrawals - OK, noted.
  • FNB petrol card comes with built in AA roadside assistance :) - I need to verify this.
  • Overdraft facility: @ FNB there's a monthly fee of R15.50 (estimated) - I won't take this.
  • In-branch fees are high: this includes payments, withdrawals and deposits (rather use FNB ATMs)

See here for comments to MoneyWeb's article "Investec fees up 67% in three years" - interesting reading ;)

Vote in the MoneyWeb
poll: Investec fees are: Extravagant, or Just right, or Low.

Come on Investec, focus on making your money from true banking business, and do not become like the other banks and rely on bank charges.

Let me know if I'm missing the boat - before I redirect my salary and debit orders to my FNB account!

Update on 14 July 2009:
FNB have just updated their Fees Calculator, click here to launch their fees calculator
I have used SnagIt in text capture mode to retrieve all my beneficiaries' banking details. I pasted them into a text file, then I can paste them into the new beneficiaries in FNB.
Open an FNB account: click here

Also, if you have an Investec HomeLoan that you want to keep (better interest rate maybe), then you can keep that open for a monthly service fee of R30.00

Saturday, 11 July 2009

eTV - remove all that WWE wrestling from the airwaves.. in fact, I'll rid it myself! Here's a way to block those images from entering your home!

I've been wanting to moan about all the wrestling on eTV, then Mr.MLX's blog "WWE Is Just NOT Wrestling Anymore?" got me thinking... and I posted a comment. Now, I've devised a devious way to prevent the TV signals from entering my house and getting to my kids! It might seem brute force, but perhaps it will help other parents to protect their young children.
Note: this "trick" will only work if you have a signal booster on your TV antenna.

Here are my feelings as posted on M.L.xTreme! blog:

There’s so much of it on eTV.

So much violence, so much bad-mouthing – it should be banned.

It sets a very bad example for the kids of today. It portrays the threats and screaming at each other as an example to follow.

Let’s complain to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) so that they ban it due to gratuitous violence and it promotes and glamorizes violence against men and women.

(see sections 14 and 15 of the BCCSA Code of Conduct for Free to Air Licensees)

I mean is so much of this necessary?:

eTV thinks that flagging it as “PG10 V” is sufficient?!!

WWE Vintage Collection – Saturdays 16h00

ECW – Wrestling: every Saturday at 17h00

WWE Raw – Sundays @ 17h00

WWE Bottomline – Mondays @ 11h30

WWE Smackdown – Wednesdays @ 20h30

Wake up e-TV - this is not "sport" - otherwise you will force me to implement my devious plan:

1) Locate the power source of your TV aerial's signal booster

2) Purchase a digital time switch (one where days of the week can be programmed) and program it to
turn off the power that corresponds to the times that eTV broadcast the offending programs (like wrestling, porno, etc)
3) Unplug the signal booster and plug it into the digital time switch

4) Plug the digital time switch into the power socket.

Note: ALL signals that require boosting/ amplification will also be cut off

Note: this "trick" will only work if you have a signal booster on your TV antenna.

Note: the un-boosted eTV signal might still be viewable... in this case a noise generator might be needed....

I went to the BCCSA site to try and lodge a complaint... what a poor site - missing links, and more.

Here's the procedure:
5 steps
BUT... step 1 cannot be done:
"check that the broadcaster has signed BCCSA code (check signatories
here)" gives a 404 error (page not found) WTF!! Doesn't instill much confidence in the BCCSA does it??!!!


Register a Complaint Quick Guide
1. Before registering a complaint, check that the broadcaster has signed BCCSA code (check signatories here) as the BCCSA does not deal with complaints regarding broadcasters that have not signed the code.
The complaint does not concern an advertisement broadcast by a signatory who is also subject to the Code of the Advertising Practice of the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa.
2. Ensure that you have the date, time and channel of the broadcast

3. Examples of the material and reasons why the broadcast might have contravened the BCCSA's Code of Conduct.

Post, fax or email the complaint to the BCCSA. Complaints must not be anonymous and should include a physical address and contact numbers. Petitions and Orchestrated complaints are not acceptable.

The BCCSA will deal with the complaint based on the BCCSA procedure.


At very least..... eTV please, please move the broadcasts to times when children are in bed ie: after 20h00 on week days... NOT at 16h00, 17h00, 11h30.

Listening to your (eTV) BCCSA compliance ad on TV: "....we are committed to not broadcasting programmes that are harmful to children...". I contest that the wrestling programmes ARE harmful to children (and to our country as a whole)!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Protect your privacy and avoid spam. Use Mailinator! No Registration! No Sign-up!

Mailinator is a different kind of email service. The biggest difference is that you don't need to sign up. Any email name you can think of already exists at Want You got it. Want to be JacquesKooStow? ScaryGavyn? GraysonTheMason? No problem. They exist when you create them and they are just waiting for you to check your inbox.

How do I create an account at Mailinator?
It's simple, you just send email to it. Temporary accounts are created when email arrives for them. First, you give out the mailinator email address you created, and then you check it. It's that simple.

Do I have to sign up?
No sign-up, you don't even have to tell Mailinator you're coming.

What email address should I use?
Anything you want! You can be,, or Just make sure your "anything" is followed by (or one of the alternate domains listed below).

What can I do with the email address?
Give it out. Use it in webforms. Post it on forums. Use it any time you need an email address, but don't want to be slowed down by the sign-up process or spammed for eternity.

Then what? How do I check the email?

You have several options:

  • check the mailbox on their site
  • via RSS
  • via a widget!
  • via your web browser

At Mailinator you can use any address that YOU make up! Here's a random one though if you're having trouble thinking of one:

Alternate Domains:

Email sent to an
alternate domain goes to Mailinator too!

See here for FAQs:

Mailinator home:

Update on 12July2009:
Here are are
few more ;),,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

SAPS reservists disarmed! and in 14 days time will Permanent Force personnel have a problem as well?

From Eye Witness News:
Tonight, the SAPS lack of effective planning and resourcing in the Western Cape effectively shot themselves in the foot – disarming up to 30% of their on the ground capacity.

Much has been made in the media of late regarding the implementation of the new firearms control act (FCA) what hasn’t been clarified – although often touched on – is the position this places the SAPS in in terms of having the largest volume of arms bearing officers second possibly to the SANDF. The new FCA requires that all persons carrying a firearm have completed and passed a competency test including examinations to a SAQA (South African Qualifications Authority) approved standard. This includes the SAPS.

Effectively, this means that during the past 4 years, the SAPS has had the opportunity to ensure that its manpower component have all passed the appropriate testing so that individual officers are carrying firearms within the scope of the law.

Today saw a mass disarming of the reservist component of SAPS in the Western Cape.
All reservists were told to stop their duties and hand in the firearms they had booked out as they had not completed the required testing – despite in most cases this testing (known as a Street Survival Course) not having been made available to them. Reservists (particularly over weekends) comprise up to 30% of the man hours of SAPS in the Western Cape.
These are trained volunteers who are in two categories – those who provide their time and dedication free of charge and those who are “called up” and provide 16 hours free service followed by up to 20 shifts for which they are paid a ridiculous wage of approximately R2500 a month (constables’ wages).
During the course of today, station commissioners notified reservists when booking on for duty or simply called them in off the road and disarmed them apologizing profusely and watched in some cases up to a third of their visible policing force book their weapons in and head home.
A clear order stands within SAPS that no member may work out on the road in uniform without a firearm – there would therefore be no point in them all cluttering up the charge offices. It remains to be seen how this idiotic turn of events will be unravelled or how it will be righted from the current situation.
Permanent Police Officers who have also not completed the Street Survival Course and Competency exam were being issued “temporary weapons permits valid for 14 days” en-masse to ensure that they comply with the new FCA until such time as they can attend the courses.

In the Western Cape, there are insufficient instructors for the Street Survival and competency program to suddenly churn out the masses of members that will need certification immediately. As usual nobody seemed to know who issued the instruction although it’s rumoured to have come from Provincial Commissioner Mzwandile Petros personally. The normal blaming-game is expected to play out over the next week as some form of interim measure and the usual “it was a misunderstanding…” is offered to those whose services have effectively been rejected. As I type this, I can hear the sirens outside and wonder to myself how many calls will go unanswered tonight, how many dangerous criminals will slip through the net because of a direct lack of manpower?

Exactly how many will of course be an unknown factor, but what I do know is that the Western Cape SAPS have effectively (yet again) slapped dedicated and hard working volunteers in the face through their inefficient administration. This is the same administration that some 4 months ago made province wide calls and ran public advertisements calling for new reservists to join up and serve their communities – then after receiving literally hundreds of applications (if not thousands) turned them away saying that there was no capacity available to train them. Something is drastically malfunctioning in the wheels of the SAPS in our province and the cost is being borne by the humble citizen sitting watching television or eating dinner right now, blissfully unaware that the thin blue line keeping crime at bay is becoming weaker and weaker on a daily basis… I cannot possibly wait to see the excuses they will find to justify a monumental mistake like this or the PR they will roll out in an attempt to gloss over the severity of it. All I know is that when I head to bed, I’ll keep the doors locked and will rely on myself to protect my family – because the thin blue line is just too weak for me to depend on tonight.

This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on July 06, 2009

Monday, 6 July 2009

Comply with the new law (RICA) and register your cellphone number today

RICA is the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act (and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act) and it requires that everyone who has an active cellphone number or purchases a new Prepaid Starter Pack, has to register their SIM cards from 1 July 2009.

Who must register?:
All current and new Contract, Top Up and Prepaid customers must register their SIM cards.

Existing customers:
Current subscribers who have activated their cellphone numbers prior to 1st July 2009, need to register their personal details against that cellphone number (SIM card) in order to comply with the RICA Act. This must be done within 18 months from the 1st of July 2009.

New customers:
When purchasing a new starter pack customers are required to register the new SIM card and provide their personal details. New SIM cards will only be activated on the network, once the relevant SIM card has been registered.

What information and documents do you need to take with you to register?
You are required to provide the following information when registering your SIM card:
  • Cellphone number
  • Full names and surname
  • ID number or passport number - you will need to show one of the following documents as proof of identity: Green barcoded ID document or Temporary ID certificate, or Passport
  • Your residential address: You will need to show any document that includes your name and residential address such as a bank statement, municipal rates, cellphone or retail account (not older than three (3) months), existing lease, rental or credit agreement, insurance policy, current TV or motor vehicle license.
If you live in an informal settlement you can provide a letter and/or affidavit from a school, church or retail store where you receive your post (this letter must be on an official letterhead or have the stamp of the school, church or retail store).

Please note: Registration must be done in person to confirm your identity.

Which SIM cards must be registered?
All Contract, Top Up and Prepaid cellphone numbers must be registered.
This includes:
  • All data SIM cards used in smartphones, data cards, laptops, modems, etc.;
  • Telemetry SIM cards such as the SIM cards used in tracking devices;
  • SIM cards in lease-cost routers and other PABX routers;
  • New SIM cards in order to have your cellphone number activated;
  • Existing cellphone numbers - to ensure that your number does not get disconnected.

When is it your responsibility to be RICA compliant?
  • If you own a SIM card
  • If you are paying a cellphone contract for yourself
  • When a family member's cellphone bill is in your name
  • If you're a parent or guardian of minors using SIM cards
  • When you transfer a SIM card from another individual's name into your name (Contract and Prepaid)
  • When you port your cellphone number to another network.

The good news ;) Registration is free.

See here for more details:

Now, how does that affect all the visitors coming for the World Cup 2010 soccer tournament - HTT's tips need to be updated then?: Are you coming to the FIFA World Cup 2010?: How to get connected while you are in South Africa

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Free Excel templates and spreadsheets including calendar, loan, mortgage, budget, invoice, timeline, timesheet, gantt, and schedule templates

Download free Excel templates and spreadsheets from Vertex42 including calendar, loan, mortgage, budget, invoice, timeline, timesheet, gantt, and schedule templates. What's the catch?: Free to download, but there's a fee to get the unlock code to see the formulas and edit the templates.

List of Excel Templates
* The templates marked with the " * " work in Open Office.

Calendars & Schedules
* Excel Calendar Template
* Yearly Calendar
* Monthly Calendar
* Weekly Calendar Template
* Work Schedule *
* Weekly Schedule *
* Shift Schedule *
* Daily Planner
* Weekly Planner
* Monthly Planner Template
* New Year's Resolution Calendar

* Personal Budget *
* Personal Monthly Budget *
* Family Budget Planner *
* Household Budget Worksheet (monthly) *
* Home Budget Worksheet (yearly)
* Wedding Budget Template *
* Checkbook *
* Expense Tracker

Invoice & Inventory
* Service Invoice Template *
* Sales Invoice Template *
* Purchase Order *
* Billing Statement *
* Asset Tracking
* Home Inventory *

Timesheets & HR
* Employee Time Sheet *
* Timesheet with Breaks *
* Timecard *
* Expense Report *
* Vacation Tracking

* Class Schedule *
* Class Attendance Tracking *
* School Calendar
* Academic Calendar

Project Management
* Gantt Chart
* To Do List*
* Timeline Template
* Timeline Examples

Loan Calculators
* Amortization Schedule
* Car Loan Calculator
* Simple Loan Calculator *
* Amortization Table
* Simple Interest Calculator
* Interest Only Loan
* Balloon Loan Mortgage Calculator
* Boat Loan Calculator

Mortgage Calculators
* Home Mortgage Calculator
* Mortgage Payment Calculator *
* ARM Loan Calculator
* Home Equity Loan Calculator
* Extra Payments
* Canadian Mortgage Calculator
* Simple Interest Mortgage
* More Mortgage Spreadsheets

Retirement & Savings
* Simple Savings Interest Calculator
* Retirement Savings Calculator

Personal Finance
* Debt Reduction Snowball Calculator
* Credit Card Payoff Calculator
* Home Expense Calculator
* Stock Quotes

Financial Statements
* Balance Sheet *
* Income Statement *
* Cash Flow Statement *
* Break Even Point
* Net Worth Statement *

Exercise / Health
* Weight Loss Log
* Food Log
* Weight Chart
* Exercise Chart
* Exercise Log
* Weight Lifting Chart
* Weight Lifting Log
* Body Mass Index Chart
* Grocery Shopping List
* Menu Planner *

Other Templates
* Gas Mileage Log & Calculator
* Blank Sudoku Grid
* Wedding Checklist Template *
* Sign In Sheet *

Directory of Other Free Excel Templates:

Thanks Vertex42

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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.