Monday, 31 August 2009

Two simple tips to prevent those emails that are sent too early

How often have you pressed the ‘Send’ button by mistake and have to scramble to unplug your Internet connection to prevent that email from being sent?  Well, here are two ways that I use to prevent those mistakes. The most common mistakes that I make when sending an email are to forget to add the attachment, and to add/remove addresses to/from the address fields.

Here are the 2 tips:
1) When replying to an important email I always put an invalid email address (e.g. ‘xxxx’) in the ‘cc’ field.  So, if I do happen to press the ‘Send’ button by mistake, then my email client will complain that it doesn’t know who ‘xxxx’ is.  So, once I’ve checked the email content and its attachments, I can then remove the ‘xxxx’ “address”.
2) As another failsafe (yeah, call me paranoid) method of ensuring that the email gets sent to the correct parties, is to turn off Microsoft Outlook’s ‘Send immediately when connected’ setting: UNtick: “Tools->Options->Mail setup->Send immediately when connected”
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BTW: did you know that Google Mail’s (labs) feature “Settings->Labs-> Forgotten Attachment Detector” that will warn you if you refer to an attachment in the email but there isn’t an attached file? Note: obviously you need to be using an Internet browser for sending the email.
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Friday, 28 August 2009

10GB free bandwidth trial

WebAfrica is becoming a tier 1 provider and will soon be testing their infrastructure and they are looking for guinea pigs to try it out and report problems.  If you are keen then register by giving them your email address: www.webafrica.co.za/trial and if you’re lucky then you might get chosen and get your login details in the next month or so. 
See here for more details: WebAfrica forum

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Update on Tue 01 Sept 2009:
It’s not a hoax! I received the following email from WebAfrica confirming that I’m one of the 5,000 successful trialists – whooopppeeeee!


From: Web Africa [mailto:no-reply@webafrica.co.za]
Sent: 01 September 2009
To: HTT
Subject: Trial Sign up Comfirmation

Date: 2009/09/01

Dear HTT

Congratulations and thank you for signing up in time to participate and receive your 10 Gigs of FREE bandwidth! We have hit our target of 5,000 sign ups.

All applicants will be informed via e-mail and optionally SMS, as soon as the trial begins and you will then be supplied with your login details.

We will periodically be sending updates regarding the starting date, however please visit our Forum regularly to stay informed on additional news and progress reports.image
Regards

Web Africa
0861 555 222  support@webafrica.co.za   www.webafrica.co.za





Thursday, 27 August 2009

Getting ADSL @ home?: what’s the best deal for ADSL line + bandwidth bundle?

Further to the article on prepaid carry-over top-up bandwidth, I decided to look for a bundled monthly deal.  I mean, the ADSL line needs to be paid monthly, so there’s no point in looking for prepaid bandwidth deals so as to avoid a monthly fee.  So, the aim of this exercise was to find the best ADSL bundle that includes the ADSL line (Telkom fee of R152) and at least 1GB bandwidth

My criteria for choosing the best deal for me:

  1. Price (that includes the ADSL line plus 1GB bandwidth, no setup fees nor hidden fees!)
  2. Free ADSL modem/router (wireless would be a bonus) with no limitations on using another ISP (watch out for ISP locked modems)
  3. Length of contract (ideally a month-to-month deal would be better)
  4. Ease of purchase, in other words, able to pay with credit card with auto top-up facility
  5. Support (ie: not an 0861 number, preferably toll free ie: 0800 number, and instant messenger support)
  6. Reliability
  7. Speed: shaped or unshaped – not really a factor for the basic user
  8. Local bandwidth when bandwidth runs out.

Most people would start by ordering the bundle from Telkom or upgrading their current dialup account with their ISP eg: MWeb.

So, let’s see what these two companies (and others) have on offer:

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Telkom’sdo Broadband” offering start at R199 per month and includes the ADSL line (Fast DSL ie; up to 384kbps) plus 1GB data and 10GB of local-only data. 
Sign a 2 year contract and get a free Wifi ADSL modem/router.  Note that any unused data is lost and does not carry over.
You can of course purchase the ADSL line only and get data from any ISP – see Another take on the *Pre-Paid ADSL* currently on offer in South Africa

Look at the Closer bundles that also bundle call costs into the ADSL access: Telkom Closer

Other “do Broadband” offerings:

* do Broadband 2 for R258: includes the ADSL line (Fast DSL ie; up to 384kbps) plus 3GB data and 20GB of local-only data.
* do Broadband 3 for R554: includes the ADSL line (Fastest DSL ie; up to 4096kbps) plus 5GB data and 30GB of local-only data.

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SAOL.com:
* 6 months @ R95, then 18 @ R189 per month:
384k ADSL line, 1GB data, 5 mailboxes, 10MB web space (static), no setup fee.  BUT: 2 year contract, no free ADSL router, R95 for the 1st 6 months, then R189 per month. 
So, monthly cost over 24 months = R165.50 per month.

* R99 per month:
384k ADSL line, no international data, 1 mailbox, 10GB local-only access.  BUT: local-only, no free ADSL modem. 
So, monthly cost = R99 + R(prepaid data) per month.

* R189 per month:
384k ADSL line, 1GB data, 5 mailboxes, 10MB web space (static), free ADSL modem/1 port router, free .co.za domain registrationBUT: 2 year contract, setup fee of R395
So, monthly cost over 24 months = R205.46 per month.

* 12 months @ R138, then 12 @ R189 per month: 384k 384kb ADSL line, 1GB data, 20 GB local data, free 4 port ADSL router, 5 mailboxes, 10MB web space (static).  BUT: 2 year contract, setup fee of R395
So, monthly cost over 24 months = R179.96 per month.

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Nashua Mobile Internet (Internet-lessness):
* R139:
12 month contract, 384kbps ADSL line, 1GB ADSL Data, 4 x 4GB POP Mailbox, Billion Wireless ADSL Router.  BUT: after 1st  12 months the cost is R195 per month; ADSL router is locked so you can’t use another ISP’s topups unless you purchase another ADSL modem (about R300) and switch to it when you run out of the initial 1GB each month.  NashuaMobile 1GB top-ups cost R95 with no carry over.  After the initial 12 month period they will unlock your ADSL router for free then you can use it with other ISP’s top-up data.
So, monthly cost over 1st 12 months = R139.00 per month.
So, monthly cost over 24 months = R167.00 per month.

image image
* R169 per month: no contract, 384 Kbs ADSL line, 1GB, setup fee: R275 (once off), free ADSL router included, free delivery, free 1x POTS filter, (sign a 2 year contract then there’s no R275 setup fee).

By the way, CyberSmart seems to be the same company in a different guise as saol.com.  I sent a support request to info@saol.com and I got a reply from their support system with subject: “[cybersmart.co.za #91nnnnn]”.

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MWeb ADSL All Inclusive Bundle:
* 6 months @ R145, then 6 @ R199 per month: 12 month contract, 384kbps ADSL line, 1GB ADSL Data, 10 GB local-only, Wireless ADSL Router.  BUT: after 1st  6 months cost is R199 per month; ADSL router is locked so you can’t use another ISP’s topups unless you purchase another ADSL modem (about R300) and switch to it when you run out of the initial 1GB each month.
So, monthly cost over 1st 12 months = R172.00 per month.
So, monthly cost over 24 months = R185.50 per month.


So, it seems like the Nashua Mobile offering is the best for me since it has the wireless modem/router included (even though it’s locked) @ R167 per month (over 2 years).

MWeb would cost R185.50 per month (over 2 years).
Telkom would cost R199 per month (over 2 years).

Here's more advice on getting ADSL:

What will I need?
1) An ADSL line: monthly cost: FastDSL: R152 pm (entry level speed: 384kbps) OR FasterDSL: R326 pm (512kbps) OR FastestDSL: R413 pm (4096kbps)
http://www.telkom.co.za/products_services/dsl/cost_dsl_cost.html

2) An ADSL modem (your analog modem eg: 56Kb analog modem cannot be used for ADSL (the 'D' in ADSL means "digital"). I recommend signing a contract and getting a free ADSL modem. If you are techie, and know what's going on, then you might want to choose your own.... The Telkom modem provides 4 network points and wireless connections too.
Note: your new ADSL modem/router will need to plug in to your computer – it will need a LAN card in your computer or a USB port.

3) Someone to install the ADSL modem: ask Telkom to do it and they will charge you R490. I recommend going for the Self Install Option (or SIO) and do it yourself! It's not that difficult, and if you get stuck there's the Telkom 24 hour help line (0800 375 375)
See here for more info: http://www.telkom.co.za/products_services/dsl/cost_dsl_cost.html

4) An ISP (Internet Service Provider)... this is an item where you have a choice..... "bundled" or any other ISP...
WebAfrica: http://www.webafrica.co.za/adsl/prepaid/ where you won't lose any unused bandwidth (and their service is really great!)
Here’s another list of prepaid bandwidth providers: the best prepaid bandwidth in South Africa

Good luck

See here for other HTT articles on ADSL accounts:




Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Amazing new water purification system – you have to see this “magic”

If your business is water purification or treatment then you need to see this new technology that turns dirty water into crystal clear water before your eyes. This new machine is about to arrive in South Africa for a show-and-tell road trip and will then go into production in South Africa for delivery to all corners of the world.

From the AquaMag Africa home page:

The patented MagSep Magnetic Separator is a revolutionary water clarification system designed to efficiently remove fine pollutant particles from water.

It can be added to an existing water treatment system to enhance performance or be installed as a new system to meet tight discharge limits at the lowest cost.

The MagSep is compact and usually meets the tightest space limitations. For example, a unit measuring 1.4 metres by 1.5 metres can process over 1,300 litres per minute.


Benefits:

  • Low cost
  • Small size
  • High water quality
  • Low energy use
  • Low waste
  • Reliable
  • Easy to operate
  • Operates by gravity
  • No pumps
  • 3 small motors


See the video on YouTube (below [2MB]) to see the water go from muddy to crystal clear before your eyes!:

Aquamag Magsep Water clarification system



If you use less than 150MB of cell phone data per month then you should be buying your data from G-Connect

Following on from the ADSL pricing article, here’s a comparison of Vodacom data costs vs G-Connect’s data costs, and it seems that for users that use less than 150MB of data per month, it’s cheaper to purchase from G-Connect
Note: If you have a SIM card from the following then sorry, you’ll need to purchase another SIM card: Pay-as-you-go, Top-Up SIMS, Nashua Mobile, Autopage Cellular, MTN, Virgin Mobile and CellC.

image
G-Connect
https://gconnect.wirelessg.co.za/pricing.aspx Only 62c/MB (compared to Vodacom’s R1.85/MB). That’s R12.40 for 20MB (compared to Vodacom’s R28.00 for 20MB).

I see that they also have a Happy Hour (every weekday from 17:00 - 20:00) for 55c per MB image
and
Super Happy Weekend (Saturday and Sunday from 00:00:00 to 23:59:59) for 59c per MB.    image  

 image  
So, buying 150MB of data from GConnect will save you R26.00.

Here are G-Connect’s FAQs: https://gconnect.wirelessg.co.za/stuck.aspx

Here’s some more info to help compare ADSL costs (from Hellkom.co.za): ADSL Accounts




Sunday, 23 August 2009

Another take on the *Pre-Paid ADSL* currently on offer in South Africa

Things in the ADSL pre-paid bandwidth arena change so often with new specials from new companies.  I came across some interesting new specials that I thought I’d share with you.

My criteria for choosing the best offer for me:
1) Price (PrePaid, in other words: No monthly fees, no contracts, no setup fees, nor hidden fees!) and No use-it-or-lose-it policy ie: unused bandwidth must not be lost.
2) Support (ie: not an 0861 number, preferably toll free ie: 0800 number, and instant messenger support)
3) Reliability
4) Speed
5) Ease of purchase, in other words, able to pay with credit card with auto top-up facility
6) Bandwidth usage monitor/graph
7) Shaped or Unshaped – not really a factor for the basic user

Update on Tues 22 Sept:  Things have changed BIG time my loyal readers – ignore this article and read this for a 1GB monthly offering for R29…. from AfriHost

Note: readers of this blog would not like the complexity of switching to local only bandwidth accounts – so I have not factored that into my decision criteria.
Note: this is not intended to be an all-encompassing analysis of the market’s offering – merely a sharing of the analysis that I did when choosing a pre-paid offering for myself.  Use this information at your own risk, if I’m wrong, then please share why (by adding a comment) so that I can benefit too – thanks ;)

image
FNB Connect https://www.fnbconnect.co.za/products_connect_ifuel.shtml

- Unshaped ADSL data
- 6.9 cents per MB or R69 per GB
- 12 month data carry over
- Easy online top-up
- No contracts
- Up to 5 concurrent connections

Data carry over means that if you have a 3GB data bundle and only use 1GB in the month, the excess 2GB is carried over to the next month, so you don’t forfeit it :)

Here is some more information:
- You must have an active FNB account
- You must be registered for inContact
- You have to pay a R69.00 activation fee (you get the R69 back in data).

Here’s an idea on what you can get:
R100 gets you 1.45GB
R200 gets you 2.90GB
R500 gets you 7.25GB

image
Gam.co.za: http://www.gam.co.za/index.php?class=page&objectID=4888add3060ae#48a2fd7b0c42c
24x7 support: 011 318 1230; R79.80 per GB.

image
WebAfrica: http://www.webafrica.co.za/adsl/prepaid/
24x7 support: 0861 555 222 or 021 464 9500 (use that 021 number – it’s cheaper!); LiveAssistance instant messaging to the support team; Superb service – I’ve experienced it!  R70 per GB (shaped), R125 (unshaped).

image 
Axxess: http://www.axxess.co.za/prepaid.php
Also allows you to roll over your bandwidth if you don’t use it all up, to a maximum of 12 months.  R69 for 1GB semi-shaped; Vouchers can be purchased at Pick ‘n Pay and Engen; 24x7 support: 0861 300 900  Ooops, there’s that 0861 number again! :( 
ADSL 626 Account: http://www.axxess.co.za/adsl626.php R55 per GB: During the week, from 6pm to 6am and Weekends from Friday 6pm to Monday 6am, you will get full unshaped Internet access. (Please note with a 626 account, out side of the times above, you will have NO Internet connectivity).  So, a bit of a pain to have to swop logins on your ADSL router.

image 
G-Connect https://gconnect.wirelessg.co.za/pricing.aspx Only 4.9c per MB for unshaped bandwidth with data carry-over and no activation fees. That’s R50.17 for 1GB unshaped data :)

I see that they also have a Happy Hour (every weekday from 17:00 - 20:00) for R46.08 per GB image
and
Super Happy Weekend (Saturday and Sunday from 00:00:00 to 23:59:59) for R48.13 per GB.    image

Anyone tried their service? Their price is 28% less than the "standard" R70 per GB offerings out there.
I see there’s a thread on MyBroadband.co.za “G-Connect, is there a catch?” – seems that you need to use the “Connection Manager” [2.6 MB] to login to the Internet.
Although, their 101.pdf guide says “Should you opt not to make use of the Connection Manager you will need to set up your router in Router Mode.  Ensure that the ATM PVC settings in your WAN interface are as follows…”
 
imageimage
Edgars ClubConnect:  http://www.edgars.co.za/Edgars/Edgars_Clubs/Core_Benefits/ClubConnect.htm
Exclusive to Edgars Club members (that’s R20 per month); R28 per GB for the first 6 months, thereafter R55 per GB. Support line: 0861 232 582; No contract.  If you already are a member of ClubConnect, then I’d say this is a good deal.

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CybertSmart: http://www.cybersmart.co.za/index.cgi
Seems like they don’t have a pre-paid offering… there’s a monthly fee product called “One Price ADSL” with 1GB per month for R169 that INcludes the ADSL line cost.  Also, there’s an “Account only ADSL” with 3GB for R125 per month.  No contract, month to month.


So, here’s my short-list:
- G-Connect: R50.17 for 1GB UNshaped data :)
- Axxess: R69 per GB semi-shaped.
- WebAfrica: R70 per GB shaped.
- Edgars ClubConnect: I’ll need to join ClubConnect @ R20 per month, so that’s R48 per GB (1st 6 months), then R75 per GB.

…and the winner is…. well, I think I’m going to try G-Connect since my current provider WebAfrica has gone down a notch or 3 as far as pricing goes :(
So, cheers, I’m going to signup here:  G-Connect Signup


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If you want to compare ADSL offerings, then here’s a nice site to use: http://broadbandchooza.co.za/adsl.html 

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What you need to know about Prepaid, for the beginner: http://mybroadband.co.za/vb/showthread.php?t=111816
There are also lots of other forums that discuss the latest in ADSL in South Africa.

Note (again): this is not intended to be an all-encompassing analysis of the market’s offering – merely a sharing of the analysis that I did when choosing a pre-paid offering for myself.  Use this information at your own risk, if I’m wrong, then please share why (by adding a comment) so that I can benefit too – thanks ;)

Update on Tues 22 Sept:  Things have changed BIG time my loyal readers – ignore the above and read this for a 1GB monthly offering for R29…. from AfriHost




Is this a phishing scam?: a bogus KwikSpar online shopping site… or is it?

I was browsing the GetValue.co.za site for some great (South African) shopping tips, and read the comment from John K Weber here (johnkweber on August 20th, 2009 at 10:26 am):

Just a rather interesting fact about online shopping. There is an Spar online shopping site at http://www.computersource.co.za/Listing.php.

What’s weird is that when I contacted the owner of Spar he told me that it is not their online shop.  Rather weird that someone would go through all the trouble of impersonating a Spar online shop.  This is a bit scary though because it might just be a scam to get your credit card details and your money. mmm be very wary when shopping online.

One has to distinguish between being wary and paranoid.  Some trusted sites really do good and deliver good service but one has to beware that you are not being ripped off by some unknown entity.

Apparently the Spar head office has tried to get the online shop squashed but to no avail. They can’t seem to figure out who owns the site.

The http://www.computersource.co.za/Listing.php site has an “About us” page which lists telephone number and email addresses as:

Cell number: 083 290 7734
e-Mail:  kwiksparstrand@saonline.co.za
Contact: CONLYN

John K Weber called the manager of the KwikSpar (using the cell number above) who confirmed that it’s not his site.

John K Weber also said that the prices were extremely good – further enticing people to “shop” there and perhaps enter their details (credit card) on the site.

Looking at the source of the web site, I see: “Author content = SA Online: Ken Hubbard and Luke Borg”

I haven’t actually tried to purchase anything on the site… what do you think???

Or, maybe the site is real – but then why would they put incorrect contact details on the site – so, on second thoughts…. people, beware, be very aware, of this type of phishing scam.
What’s even more scary, is that Spar Head Office haven’t tracked down the owner and shut the site down.
So, maybe it’s legit – hell man, I’m going around in circles here – so, let leave it for now, until Spar, or the site owner or his/her customers come forward and defends the legitimacy of the site.

Then we can all shop there and save some money on groceries, and hopefully www.priceisright.co.za can include their prices in their groceries database for comparison!




Converting Google maps URL to GPS coordinates (longitude and latitude) to enter into your GPS

Browsing Google Maps and finding your destination point results in a URL eg: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Doppio+Zero+-+Mandela+Rhodes+Place&sll=-33.923794,18.419631&sspn=0.007959,0.014291&ie=UTF8&ll=-33.923492,18.420017&spn=0.007514,0.014291&z=16

I found this hack here: Geoffrey Emery’s blog to display the latitude and longitude coordinates of the centre of the map displayed by Google Maps:
Looking up an address in Google Maps will centre the map on that address if it was found. 
When the location you want is in the centre of the map, copy and paste this code into the location bar of your browser and press enter:

    javascript:void(prompt('',gApplication.getMap().getCenter()));

A little window will pop up displaying the GPS coordinates :) : image

But, that’s quite a javascript to remember… an easier method to remember would be to decode the URL that Google Maps gives when clicking on the “Link” button.

For example, searching in Google Maps for ‘Doppio Zero - Mandela Rhodes Place’ gives a hit and clicking on that result then the ‘Link’ link:
image

gives a URL of: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Doppio+Zero+-+Mandela+Rhodes+Place&sll=-33.923794,18.419631&sspn=0.007959,0.014291&ie=UTF8&ll=-33.923492,18.420017&spn=0.007514,0.014291&z=16

The Latitude and Longitude are embedded in the URL, just after the text ‘&sll’ which gives:
Latitude: 33.923794 {don’t forget the – sign}  and Longitude: 18.419631

Did you know that you can also enter the coordinates into the Google maps search bar
e.g.: S33.923794  E18.419631  or even just   -33.923794 18.419631

Enter this into your GPS eg: Nokia 6110 Navigator:  Latitude: –33.923794   Longitude: 18.419631

If you want to learn more about longitude and latitude, then here’s a link to some simply presented info by John Bell: Latitude and Longitude for sixth grade




Saturday, 22 August 2009

Firefox slow startup caused by RetailMeNot addon – Solved :)

I couldn’t figure out why my Firefox browser startup was soooo slow, and why my bandwidth monitor showed that lots of data being downloaded (>1 MB) even though I have my auto-updates DISabled.  Then, yesterday a Firefox error appeared “Script: chrome://retailmenot/content/rmn-networkhandler.js:74” which gave me a clue.  I decided to DISable the RetailMeNot add-on and the startup is now fast and there’s no extra bandwidth usage.

image
On further investigation, it seems that the RetailMeNot add-on updates its internal database on startup so that whenever you visit a site it checks for discount coupons or vouchers that might be redeemable at the site.
I’ve decided to turn off the RetailMeNot add-on until I’m in shopping mode – then I’ll turn it on.

Hooray, I’ve found a way to use my cordless DECT phone to make Skype and SIP VoipBuster calls – Solved :)

Further to my posting “VoipBuster over SkypeOut…” where I ask the question “How do you make calling over VoipBuster as convenient as using the DECT cordless Telkom phone? (for less than R600)”, I think I’ve found the answer for R348 R255. The box is called SkypeBox or Telbox or ‘Yealink USB-B2K’ USB adapter and, since it’s a USB device, it needs to be plugged into a computer (and that’s why it’s such a cost effective solution) that will connect to the Internet and runs the VOIPbuster software.  (I see that no external power is required – so that’s 1 less cable to plug in!)
SkypeBoxYealink_USB-B2K_USBadapter
Download the manual here [410KB]: USB-B2K USB adapter manual

In fact, this box of tricks seems to have created software drivers (in 2007, 2008 already!) so that it can interface to the following VOIP services: SkypeMate, VoipBusterMate, VoipBusterMate, MSNMate, YahooMate, X-TenMate (for X-Lite, X-Pro or eyeBeam), SJphoneMate, GoogleTalkMate, Net2phoneMate, NortelMate
Yealink Easy VOIP ‘Solutions page’
For a full list, click on the VOIP product logos on this page: Yealink Easy VOIP ‘Solutions page’.  Once you have clicked on the VOIP provider logo, the instructions appear at the bottom of the screen along with the Yealink compatible hardware :) and links to download the software (eg: VoipBuster) and the ‘Mate’ driver (eg; VoipBusterMate):
image

From the USB-B2K manual: “USB Adaptor is analog telephone adaptor with one USB interface to PC, 1 FXS for regular phone and 1 FXO for PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) call relays.
All cordless phones and regular phones can be used to make and receive Skype call.  Phone can be used to make regular call at the same time.  Phone rings for all incoming Skype and PSTN calls. Skype or PSTN calls is switched by pressing phone key (*).
Supports DECT, 2.4G, 900M and any other wireless phones; Make/Receive both Skype calls and regular PSTN calls; Auto-detection and auto-switching to Skype or PSTN calls; Phone rings for all incoming Skype and PSTN calls; Use the phone keypad to dial.”
{Note: the manual refers to Skype calls, but has obviously not been updated for the other VOIP software products like VOIPbuster}

As you can see, there are a 11 hardware products listed in the VoipBuster compatible devices offered by Yealink.  I’m not really interested in corded USB/normal phones since then I may as well use my headset.  So, the devices that I will look at purchasing are the USB-B2K adapter or the USB-B3G adapter or the USB Wireless phones (USB-W1DL or USB-P8DH).

So, let’s find some online prices in South Africa:
SkypeBox or Telbox or ‘Yealink USB-B2K’ USB adapter:
R220.00 (+R35 delivery fee) from www.bidorbuy.co.za
R335.00 (+R40 delivery fee, else collect from Cape Town) from www.pcshopping.co.za
R348.00 (+delivery fee) from www.nanoelf.co.za

USB-B3G: (I couldn’t find any available online)

USB-W1DL USB Wireless phone:  
R683 (plus delivery fee, else collect from Cape Town) from www.voicesource.co.za

USB-P8DH: (I couldn’t find any available online)

Note: these are USB devices – which means that they need to be plugged into a computer that’s on and running the VOIP software (eg: VoipBuster and VoipBusterMate).  This brings the price down… if you want a stand-alone device, then they will be more expensive (about R900)

Please note that I haven’t actually purchased any of the above devices – if/when I do, then I will provide feedback.

Here’s a (bit old) discussion thread: SIP Phones/Skype phones and where to get them?

Friday, 21 August 2009

From the creator of TortoiseSVN, here are more free tools

If you use SubVersion (SVN) for source code (and other) control, then you must know of TortoiseSVN, “The coolest Interface to (Sub)Version Control”. 
But, did you know that there are other great tools from some of the authors?
 
Stefan’s Tools is the author’s site where you can find these tools – some of which are SVN related:
FavIconizer: [110KB] scan all links you have in your favourites and check if the website has a FavIcon. If it has one, FavIconizer will download that icon and adjust the link in the favourites to use that
CommitMonitor: [1.2MB] small tool to monitor various Subversion repositories for new commits
DemoHelper: [70KB] an annotation and screen zoom tool you can use for technical presentations that include application demonstrations 
Info
grepWin: [500KB] simple search and replace tool which can use regular expressions to do its job. This allows to do much more powerful searches and replaces.
SKTimeStamp: [300KB] very simple shell extension which adds a new page to the Explorer properties dialog. On that new page, you can change the file/folder dates and times.
StExBar: [400KB] provides many useful commands for your everyday use of Windows explorer. And you can add as many custom commands on your own as you like
MailNoter: [112KB] small tool to help gathering notes from various applications, but specifically from browsers
trafficWatcher: [130KB] small tool to monitor your network activity.  Unlike other tools, trafficWatcher can differ between traffic inside your LAN and the traffic that reaches the Internet.  Note: you must first install WinPCap [900KB]!

Oh, and course, if you need TortoiseSVN then here’s more info: TortoiseSVN

To support Stefan’s further development of these tools, please consider making a donation

Cape Town Web cams: traffic, Green Point stadium, more…

Here’s a collection of web cams that I could find in Cape Town:
Traffic N1 Century City, Bloubergstrand, N2 Coen Steytler, N2 Hospital Bend, N2/M5 Valkenberg, N2 Eastern Boulevard, Table Mountain, N1 Sable Road, Camps Bay, Green Point Stadium (World Cup Soccer webcam): http://www.page88.co.za/cr/capetown/capetowntrafficcams.shtml

Table Mountain, Green Point 2010 Soccer Stadium, Table Mountain from Table View, Laibach Wine Estate near Stellenbosch, Winelands near Durbanville, Bloubergstrand Marine Drive, Lower Table Mountain Station, N1 Century City, Upper Table Mountain Station: http://www.kapstadt.de/livecam.htm

 

Miscellaneous WebCams in Cape Town:
http://www.goandroam.com/webcams/south_africa/cape_town/
http://cybercapetown.com/webcam/
http://www.cape-town.info/cape-town-south-africa-webcam/

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

So your laptop didn’t come with ‘Home’ nor ‘End’ buttons? No problem just remap the keys

It’s so frustrating!  How the hell did they (Dell) design a keyboard that doesn’t have a single-press ‘Home’ or ‘End’ key?  What were they thinking – wait, I know, “Let’s make more money by saving on those extra 2 keys!”.

Well, I could take it no longer!  Pressing ‘Fn-LeftArrow’ for ‘Home’ and ‘Fn-RightArrow’ for ‘End’ was getting me down.  So, I turned to the little trick that I wrote about when I had problems with Google’s Picasa app:  Remap your keys.

Here’s the trick:
"I was able to remap 2 keys using KeyTweak (http://webpages.charter.net/krumsick/) and the problem was solved."  Sure, I lost the functionality of 2 other keys, but I hardly ever used those two keys.

Thanks to Travis Krumsick for KeyTweak!

More details: I downloaded the KeyTweak program from here: http://webpages.charter.net/krumsick/KeyTweak_install.exe

Run the KeyTweak program, then I chose to remap the ‘Page Up’ button to ‘Home’, and the ‘Page Dn’ button to ‘End’, using KeyTweak's virtual Keyboard:
click on the button corresponding to where your ‘Page Up’ button is: ie: 85
then click on "Choose new remapping",
then use the pull down list to select ‘Home
then press the "Remap Key",then press "Apply".

Repeat this for the ‘Page Dn’ to ‘End’ remapping.
 
The remapping will then get written into the Windows Registry, and
you will then need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

My blog articles at blogger.com are now safe and sound (on my PC)

A while back I was thinking that if I ever lost my Blogger.com articles I would be really upset and it was time to back it up.  I have found 2 ways (there are probably lots more, but these work for me) of backing up blogger.com for free:
1) using the free backup (and restore) utility “Blogger Backup” from the Code Plex Open Source Community;
2) the recently released (Dec 2008) built in blogger.com export utility: Blogger buzz article.

Both export to xml format.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

I was nearly caught by this MSN messenger phishing scam (I think) pointing me to some interesting photos of me

All of a sudden a popup appeared telling me that one of my MSN messenger buddies had found some interesting pictures of me on the Internet… this of course raised my curiosity so I clicked on the link to the pictures. 

A web form opened:
MSN phishing login page
“Welcome back!  Please login with your msn to continue…  pics for msn friends 1.1c  currently 37 pictures in private gallery.”

So, not thinking too much :( and knowing that the original MSN message came from one of my buddies, I typed in my MSN email address and then my password.
I was about to press enter, when I realised something was amiss.  I’m not sure what triggered my suspicions (perhaps it was the poor capitalisation), but I decided to read the “Terms and Conditions” page (pasted below, with all the original spelling mistakes, and “interesting” statements underlined).

Well, after reading the “Terms and Conditions” page, all I can say is “At least they are being honest about being dis-honest”!!!!  And needless to say, I decided NOT to press the “Sign in” button.

OK, so why did I get the message?
Is my PC infected with some sort of virus?
Is my buddy’s PC infected with some sort of virus?
Has my buddy’s MSN login been compromised?

After Googling a bit, I think (not conclusive at this stage) that a virus is not involved.  But I suspect that my buddy’s account has been compromised. 

I called my buddy and told him to change his password.  Hopefully that’s sorted out the problem. 

Remember, if you get a similar popup then don’t enter your real username and password!



Terms of Use / Privacy Policy:


{HTT has highlighted and underlined various statements below – the original was plain text}

By filling out this form, you authorize Tubela Management, Inc to spread the word about this 100% real and upcomming Messenger Community Site.  You will receive your share of the credit in helping us spread the word. This is a harmless Community site which is offering users a platform to meet each other for free.

We do not share your private information with any third parties.  By using our service/website you hereby fully authorize Tubela Management, Inc to send messages of a commercial nature via Instant Messages and E-Mails on behalf of third parties via the information you provide us. This is not a "phishing" site that attempts to "trick" you into revealing personal information. Everything we do with your information is disclosed here. If you are under eighteen (18), you MUST obtain permission from a parent or guardian before using our website/service.

This page is not affiliated with or operated by Microsoft (tm) or MSN Network (tm).

ANY LIABILITY, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES CAUSED OR ALLEGEDLY CAUSED BY ANY FAILURE OF PERFORMANCE, ERROR, OMISSION, INTERRUPTION, DEFECT, DELAY IN OPERATION OR TRANSMISSION, COMMUNICATIONS LINE FAILURE, SHALL BE STRICTLY LIMITED TO THE AMOUNT PAID BY OR ON BEHALF OF THE SUBSCRIBER TO THIS SERVICE.

We may temporarily access your MSN account to do a combination of the following: 1. Send Instant Messages to your friends promoting this site. 2. Introduce new entertaining sites to your friends via Instant Messages.

This is a free service. You will not be asked to pay at any time. You will not be subscribed to anything asking for payment. This service is made possible by many hours of human effort.

Tubela Management, Inc reserves the right to change the terms of use / privacy policy at any time without notice. To view the latest version of this privacy policy, simply bookmark this page for future reference.

You understand that this agreement shall prevail if there is any conflict between this agreement and the terms of use you accepted when you signed up with MSN. You also understand that by temporarily accessing your msn account, Tubela Management, Inc is NOT agreeing to MSN's terms of use and therefore not bound by them.

This agreement shall be construed and governed by the law of the republic of Panama. You expressly consent to the exclusive venue and personal jurisdiction of the courts located in the Republic of panama for any actions arising from or relating to this agreement.

If any provision of this agreement is held to be invalid, illegal or unenforceable for any reason, such invalidity, illegality or unenforceability shall not effect any other provisions of this agreement, and this agreement shall be construed as if such invalid, illegal or unenforceable provision had not been contained herein.

Copyright 2008 Tubela Management, Inc



Update on Thursday 27Aug2009:  I just received another popup – this time containing the following text: “phewww +o( unbelivable, is that you??? who ever is it...is really similar to you lol ...
http://I-Got-Obsessed.com/?gallery=buddy’s_name&pic=DSC00457.JPG




The Latest ain’t the Greatest: finding an old version of a program that’s better than the latest

Following on from the note in the blog posting referring to Copernic Desktop Search, sometimes you would prefer to download an older version of an application.  To use OldVersion.com’s slogan: “because newer is not always better”.

There are various reasons for this, for example: OldApps

  • the older version is free while the latest is payware.  In this case you might find the version that you’re looking for at Last Freeware Version
  • the older version has more features or is less CPU/RAM power hungry, or is more usable, or has less bugs, or is smaller than the latest version.  In this case go to http://www.oldversion.com or http://www.oldapps.com and download the version you want.

OldVersion.com

Last Freeware Version

Barry’s Best Computer Tips could help you as it did me

I bumped into a mine of information the other day: “Barry’s Best Computer Tips” (BBCT) blog and it’s kept me busy for hours enjoying the tips and free software! 

image

Here are some links to Barry’s Best blog pages that I loved and are applicable to South Africans - I’m sure you’ll enjoy:

Thanks Barry – keep up the gr8 work “Consistently delivering only the best computer tips, Internet tools and software news.”

Barry's Best Computer Tips is updated several times every day; the easiest way to get your daily dose is by subscribing to his news feed.  Stay on top of all our updates by subscribing now via RSS or Email.
Follow Barry on Twitter.

Why is my Hard Drive so full? – “See” the contents of your Hard Drive for free

WinDirStat (WDS) is an Open Source disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for Windows.  It shows disk, file and directory sizes in a treelist as well as graphically in a treemap, much like KDirStat or SequoiaView.

It gives a very powerful visual picture of the contents of your hard drive (using a graphical representation: tile charts). 

image 
WinDirStat reads the whole directory tree once and then presents it in three useful views:
1) The directory list, which resembles the tree view of the Windows Explorer but is sorted by file/subtree size,
2) The treemap, which shows the whole contents of the directory tree straight away,
3) The extension list, which serves as a legend and shows statistics about the file types.

Once you’ve found the offending rectangle that’s taking up all that HDD space, then right click and select the delete button to get your own back.

What is a Treemap?
The treemap represents each file as a coloured rectangle, the area of which is proportional to the file's size. The rectangles are arranged in such a way, that directories again make up rectangles, which contain all their files and subdirectories.  So their area is proportional to the size of the subtrees.  The colour of a rectangle indicates the type of the file, as shown in the extension list.  The cushion shading additionally brings out the directory structure.  Treemaps were invented by Ben Shneiderman (www.cs.umd.edu/hcil/treemap-history).

See here for more info: http://sourceforge.net/projects/windirstat/ or http://windirstat.info/.

For Linux (with KDE interface) there is the following equivalent: http://kdirstat.sourceforge.net/. This is actually the original on which windirstat is based.

For Linux (with Gnome interface) there is the following equivalent: http://www.marzocca.net/linux/baobab.html

Friday, 14 August 2009

‘Everything’ will index your hard drive and make it easy to find stuff (for free) in 1 minute!

Everything search engine is a great tool to locate files and folders by name instantly – written by David Carpenter from http://www.voidtools.com

Very small installation file (272 KB), clean and simple user interface, quick file indexing, quick searching, minimal resource usage, share files with others easily, real-time updating.

"Everything" is an administrative tool that locates files and folders by filename instantly for Windows.
Unlike Windows search "Everything" initially displays every file and folder on your computer (hence the name "Everything").
You type in a search filter to limit what files and folders are displayed.

"Everything" only uses file and folder names and generally takes a few seconds to build its database.
A fresh install of Windows XP SP2 (about 20,000 files) will take about 1 second to index.
1,000,000 files will take about 1 minute.

Note: "Everything" does not search file contents, only file and folder names.

See here for more info: http://www.voidtools.com/faq.php

Download from here: Download EveryThing

Donate here: Donate to VoidTools for a gr8 product

Sunday, 9 August 2009

VoipBuster over SkypeOut: the verdict? Read this for hands on tips on saving on your phone bill

I’ve now proven to myself that SkypeOut has been beaten by price hands down! Further to the HTT calculator comparing rates of SkypeOut to FreeCall, the voice quality and reliability of the VoipBuster service has me so impressed that I’m searching for more hardware so that I can call using a cordless phone.

Oh, the 3 reasons why I eventually decided to go with VoipBuster over FreeCall: 1) VoipBuster offers 120 free call days (others offered 60 days); 2) I could purchase airtime using my credit card; 3) Airtime purchase could be done directly with VoipBuster so there were no middle-man charges.

VoipBusterLogo
Download (for your PC) and register for free to create your VoipBuster account [3.5MB]:  Download VoipBuster here.
You can even make some free trial calls (limited to 1 minute each) without even purchasing any credit.
Purchase credits here: Purchase VoipBuster credits

I have even set up my Symbian cell phone to call using the VoipBuster SIP settings.  I was surprised however that the Nokia 6110 Navigator allows you to enter the SIP settings but doesn’t come with the Internet Phone application to actually use the SIP connection!  WTF!

So, NimBuzz to the rescue – which allows you create a SIP connection and call your contacts using this SIP connection (that’s VOIP over your data 3G connection).  This way, you can make a long distance call using your mobile phone’s data package…. and with Vodacom’s free bandwidth offer until end Aug 2009, you could really call for free!

BTW: if you aren’t using NimBuzz, then you’d better rush over to their web site and see how this amazing free program allows you to see all your Instant Messaging services in one place.  As on Aug 2009 v2.0.3.1535:  these are the communities supported by NimBuzz: AIM, Facebook, Gadu Gadu, Giovani, GoogleTalk, Hyves, ICQ, Jabber, MySpace, Orkut, schulerVZ, Skype, studiVZ/meinVZ, Twitter, Windows Live Messenger MSN), Yahoo Messenger.

Nimbuzz Mobile lets you call, chat, message, and send files, for free.  It combines all your buddies from Skype, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, AIM, Google Talk and more.  One login, one contact list, all accounts.  There are other Instant Message aggregators out there, but none (that I know of) that include Skype as well.
If that wasn’t enough… you can even download the PC version of NimBuzz that allows you to login on your PC (and save your cell phone’s battery and data bandwidth).
Oh, wait, there’s more: if you’re at an Internet Cafe, or a friend’s PC and you don’t want to download and install anything, then there’s a Web NimBuzz version – just use your browser to log on to NimBuzz.com from anywhere. It’s free.
For those of you that have web sites or blogs, then add the NimBuzz widget and stay in touch with your visitors.

NimBuzz default SIP settings offered (as on Aug 2009 v2.0.3.1535):  A1, MWeb, Vyke, SipGate, Gizmo5, Tpad, TerraSip, Global TeleLinks, Skytel Srbija, XeloQ, ApnaTelelink, Adepto Telecom, VoIP HIT, Voiceglobe, and ‘Other’ (that’s what I use for VoipBuster) by entering the following settings:
    SIP port: 5060
    Registrar: sip.voipbuster.com
    Proxy server: sip.voipbuster.com
    Outbound proxy server: leave empty
    Account name: your VoipBuster username
    Password: your VoipBuster password
    Display name/number: your VoipBuster username or voipnumber
    Stunserver (option): stun.voipbuster.com


Fring also does SIP calls and connects to FaceBook, Twitter, Skype, Google Talk, MSN messenger, ICQ, Yahoo, AIM, orkut, Yandex, WeFi, Last.fm.

Ooops, off at a tangent – sorry.  Let’s get back to VoipBuster… So, I’ve established that using VoipBuster allows calls at a much lower rate than SkypeOut and at very good quality.  For the first 120 days after purchasing credit (minimum of €10 Euro) calls to a lot of countries are free (you only pay for the data bandwidth used).
After the 120 free days period is over (or if you overuse the free service ie: more than 300 minutes per week of free calls, measured over the last 7 days and per unique IP address), then the VoipBuster normal rates apply.  The good news is that even these charged “normal rates” are much lower than Skypeout’s rates – so it’s a win-win situation!  For example: calls to USA on SkypeOut are 19.6c per minute, and on VoipBuster are 11.1c per minute (South African cents).
After the 120 free days, then purchase more credit for more free days or pay the normal rate.  Some people opt to buy more credit to get more free days to use on landline calls to free destinations and conserve their credit to use on cellular calls or calls to non-free destinations.

 

Here’s more details on some clever features from VoipBuster:
SIP setup for some popular SIP devices, VOIPin: get your own regular fixed telephone phone number - for only 1 Euro (not available in South Africa yet), certified VoipBuster devices (and I’m now searching for one of those cordless phones that can support Telkom and SIP), Phone-to-phone (callback service which enables you to make your VoipBuster call on your home or mobile phone), PC-to-PC free calls, VoipBuster mobile (download the app to your mobile phone), VoipSMS client for your Windows mobile phone, send cheap SMS (ZAR 33c per SMS to South Africa), Symbian contact import tool (to import your cell phone’s contacts into VoipBuster for easy dialling)

Come to think of it… the VoipBuster rate to call a South African cell phone is ZAR 88.7c per minute, compare this to the Telkom rate of R1.89 (peak) and R1.03 (off peak) per minute – it’s actually cheaper to use VoipBuster (even if you take the approx. 1MB per minute (ZAR 7c) ADSL data charges into account).

More detail on SIP calling using a wireless phone – the idea is to try and make calling over VoipBuster as convenient as using the DECT cordless Telkom phone.  I have successfully connected the cell phone’s bluetooth headset to my laptop and set up the VoipBuster program to use the bluetooth audio device.  But, the range is limited to about 5m… so, I decided to move my laptop with me, and use the laptop’s wireless LAN to provide mobility.  A more convenient solution would be to use a DECT phone and switch between Telkom and SIP connection – being able to browse through the VoipBuster list of contacts would also be a nice bonus!  So, I’m looking for one of the devices listed under ‘SIP Wireless phones” or “USB Bluetooth phones” or “USB wireless phones” here (or maybe even those ADSL routers or FRITZ!Box Fon).  Sure, there are devices costing over ZAR1,000 but I’m looking for a solution costing less than ZAR600.
Most South African households already have a DECT cordless phone, so, it would be nice to be able to use a similar phone to call your VoipBuster contacts.
Some suppliers are importing the Sedna SE-W3D VOiP/PSTN USB Wireless Handset, with LCD, built in soundcard, Keypad, speaker Phone, rechargeable, up to 50m range, no ext. power required for about R620.00… but, that’s a Skype phone – I need one that’s configurable to use SIP settings.

 

So, in other words, I agree with VoipBuster’s slogan:  “If you like Skype, you will love VoipBuster!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Licence row puts Skype under shutdown threat

From http://www.ciol.com/News/News-Reports/Licence-row-puts-Skype-under-shutdown-threat/3809123089/0/

Skype, the eBay company, is reportedly on the verge of shutdown due to an ongoing legal battle with its founders.

Recently eBay had said it did not own the underlying technology that powers the service, prompting fears of a shutdown. Though Skype is trying to develop new peer-to-peer technology to replace the code it currently uses, how far would it be successful is still doubtful.

"Skype's business as currently conducted would likely not be possible," eBay said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The filing also said the new software development would be expensive, possibly unsuccessful, and "may result in loss of functionality or customers, even if successful".

If they fail in that attempt, millions of Internet users who use Skype could be forced to find other ways to make phone calls. 
HTT: Like VoipBuster maybe - see this HTT article: A cheaper service than SkypeOut (PC-to-Phone) - another one of HTT's comparison calculators shows what savings are possible

See here for the full article:  http://www.ciol.com/News/News-Reports/Licence-row-puts-Skype-under-shutdown-threat/3809123089/0/

 

PS: first article published with offline blog editor:  http://windowslivewriter.spaces.live.com/default.aspx

Technorati Tags:

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Cool free apps: Pricelessware List 2008

Check out this list of freeware programs aptly named "Pricelessware". When I first opened it, I scanned for the power apps that I use and noted that most of them were listed... so, I figure, if the ones that I already use are listed, then those other ones that I've never heard of might also be good ones to get to know.

So, I guess I'll be busy trying out some of these in this mine of information.

Enjoy!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Yebo Millionaires: enter for free and you could win R1,000,000

Did you know that you if you are a Vodacom subscriber, then you get 2 free SMSs per week to enter the Yebo Millionaires competition?
Vodacom customers can send their nine lucky letters of the alphabet to 32082. Letters can be repeated.
A customer who has a 9 letter match will win R1 million, those that have an 8 letter match will win R200 000, for a 7 letter match customers will receive a R29 recharge voucher and for a 6 letter match customers will receive a R12 recharge voucher.

Once customers have SMS'ed in their nine letters, they will receive an SMS with an easy multiple choice question that must be answered correctly in order to qualify to play the game. Once the question has been correctly answered, Vodacom customers are now in the game and won't have to answer it again. The entrant will receive an SMS confirming that the entry has been accepted and entered into the draw and will include a reference number for the entry.


All Vodacom customers receive two free SMS's per week to enter the Yebo Millionaires game show. These SMS's will be loaded every Tuesday morning. Prepaid and Top Up customers will receive an additional free SMS for every recharge performed during the week that will be loaded at the time of recharge. Free game show SMS's can only be used to play Yebo Millionaires and SMS's not used during the week will unfortunately not be carried over to the next week. Customers can enter as many times as they like. Once the free game show SMS's have been used, a premium rate of R1.00 (VAT included) per SMS will be charged.


(Prepaid customers must have recharged at least once in that week in order to play the game)


Entries close at 12:00 every Tuesday, the day of the draw. A random selection mechanism will be used to choose the nine (9) winning letters and the weekly results will be audited by Vodacom's independent auditors. The winning letters will be revealed on a televised game show that takes place on SABC 1 on Tuesdays just before 18:30.


See here for more details:
http://www.vodacom.co.za/yebo_millionaires/overview.jsp

So, all you Lotto players - try your hand at this method of winning some $s for free!

See here for the winning numbers every week:  http://www.vodacom.co.za/personal/main/rewards/winningletters



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