Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Yebo Millionaires: here’s a more automated way of entering 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?
Further to my posting in Aug 2009 “Yebo Millionaires: enter for free and you could win R1,000,000” I’ve discovered other ways of entering the competition – the most convenient is the UPICK (read “you pick”) option below:

You can enter the competition in one of three ways:

1. SMS any nine alphabet letters to 32082
Pick nine letters from the alphabet, in any order
Receive and answer an easy entry question via SMS
Wait for a confirmation SMS that includes your reference number
Your entry is instantly added to the weekly lucky draw
You are allowed to enter two free SMSs per week with any nine letters
Prepaid and Top Up customers get an additional SMS for every recharge made during the week
SMSs cannot be carried over to the following week and extra SMS entries will be charged at R1.00 (VAT included) per SMS

2. SMS ‘UPICK’ to 32082
With ‘UPICK’ Vodacom will randomly generate nine letters for you
SMS the word ‘UPICK’ to 32082 and the same UPICK will be entered for the next four consecutive draws
Your UPICK entry will use your free SMSs first
Each ‘UPICK’ equals one entry
Each ‘UPICK’ entry returns an SMS confirmation with a reference number, draw date and the nine lucky letters
After the four consecutive draws are used, an SMS reminder is sent to re-enter your ‘UPICK’
If you have entered more than two UPICK entries, additional entries will be charged at R1 per entry

3. SMS ‘SAME’ to 32082
SMS ‘SAME’ followed by a space and nine lucky letters to 32082 to enter the same letter for the next four consecutive draws
Your SAME entry will use your free SMSs first
Each ‘SAME’ SMS will count as one entry
Each ‘SAME’ entry returns an SMS confirmation with a reference number, draw date and the nine lucky letters
After the four consecutive draws are used, an SMS reminder is sent to re-enter your ‘SAME’ again
If you have entered more than two SAME’ entries, additional entries will be charged at R1 per entry

This info was found here: http://www.vodacom.co.za/portal/site/vodacom/yebomillionaires/?ciFormat=format7

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

Left your wallet at home, 30 Kms from home and need petrol–here’s how to get out of that pickle. Cell phone banking to the rescue

Here’s the problem: you’ve left home to go to work – luckily you travel to work in the opposite direction to peak traffic – hehe, what a win!  After 30Kms you breeze over that intersection with the longest queue (in the opposite direction of course), you notice your “low fuel” warning light go on and you realise that you have forgotten your wallet at home!  Horror of horrors… now what?  U-turn is definitely out of the question – there’s no ways the fuel in the reserve tank will last that peak traffic. 

So you have a few options:
1) Mozy over to the local petrol station and convince them to give you some fuel and offer to leave your cheap watch as a deposit;
2) Carry on to work and borrow some cash from friends at work… mmmm there must be a better solution;
3) Stop the car at the next robot and beg for some cash… mmm, I’ve always wondered how much those okes make at the robots;
4) Ok, Ok… here’s the best solution: luckily, you are an FNB account holder and you use cell phone banking – so you login and select the “Send Money” option.  Select the FromAccount, and amount, and cell phone number of the recipient (that’s you!).  Click finish and voila – you’ll receive an SMS with details:


Once you've received an SMS telling you that you have been sent money:

  • Dial *120*277# to access the eWallet
  • Set a secret 5-digit PIN for the eWallet
  • Select 'Withdraw cash' and then 'Get ATM PIN'
  • You'll receive an SMS with an ATM PIN
  • Go to an FNB ATM
  • At the ATM press the green button (enter/proceed) and then Wallet Services
  • Key in your cellphone number and ATM PIN
  • Choose the amount of money to withdraw.  Make sure that either your transaction has ended or that you press 'cancel' before leaving the ATM.

    So, can you believe it!???  Wallet is sitting at home and you can “speak” to an ATM and get it to spit out some cash – Wow!  Now that’s a solution… but remember, it’s still easier not to leave your petrol card at home!

    See here for more info: Send Money and eWallet
    Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to Send Money from all FNB channels and how to receive money.

  • As an introductory offer, until the 18th July 2010, you can send and receive money FREE of bank charges.


    HTT is not affiliated to FNB in any way – just a happy client trying to share tips so that readers may benefit ;)
    BTW, I haven’t actually tried to send money to myself – just had a nightmare about this the other day and thought up this idea for using this service.  Let me know if it is in fact possible to send money to yourself.

    Update: Tue 04May2010:
    Confirmation via Twitter from http://twitter.com/Rbjacobs: The official FNB Guy:  “@HandyTechTipper The eWallet allows FNB customers to Send Money to anyone with a valid SA cellphone number < more http://bit.ly/dslc3c

    Compare the TopTV and DSTV offerings (calculator)

    Here’s a quick posting on the newly launched TopTV – the new satellite TV channel in South Africa.  There’s a lot of activity on Twitter asking about the new channel, and how it compares with DSTV, so I’ve collated some info that I’ve found and also created a calculator so that it’s easier to compare what’s on offer by filtering what you are interested in and then seeing which company’s bouquet is for you.

    Download the calculator from here [1MB]:  Compare TopTV with DSTV Calculator

    How to use this calculator:
    Use the "DetailedCompare_TopTV_vs_DSTV" worksheet:

    Use the filters at the top of the columns to filter by channel name OR by price OR by bouquet to see how much you need to spend to get the channels you want
    For example: filter by "channel name" (column C): "Cartoon Network" shows that that channel is ONLY available in the DSTV Premium bouquet
    For example: filter by "Min cost for this channel" = R99 (column J): shows all channels available for R99, THEN you can see if it's better to go for DSTV or TopTV's R99 offering
    For example: filter by "bouquet name = DSTV Select 1" (column N): to see which channels are offered on the "DSTV Select 1 (R148)"

    Interesting to filer using column J “Min Cost for this channel” set to R20 to see which channels you can get for R20 per month – not a bad deal
    Also interesting to see that Disney and Boomerang are only available on DSTV Premium – I hope your kids don’t have expensive taste! 
    Same for MNet, SuperSport 1,2,5,6,7, and RAI.
    Interesting that RTP International (Portuguese) is in the R99 bouquet – previously you would have to fork out R529 for DSTV’s Premium bouquet – are all the Portuguese people going to move to TopTV?

    I referenced the articles below while writing this article - go to these information sources for more detail (if needed):
    TopTV bouquets: http://toptv.co.za/bouquet
    Compare DSTV bouquets: http://www.dstv.com/dstvsa/content/en/sa/get_dstv
    DSTV Premium (R529): http://www.dstv.com/dstvsa/content/en/sa/products?bId=1
    DSTV Lite: http://www.dstv.com/dstvsa/content/en/sa/products?bId=24
    TechCentral: TopTV launch: all the details: http://www.techcentral.co.za/toptv-launch-all-the-details/14115/
    Diagram of TopTV's bouquets: http://www.techcentral.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Channel-Descriptors2.jpg
    Note: DSTV has Interactive channels (TopTV doesn’t). See here for more: http://www.dstv.com/dstvsa/content/en/sa/products?bId=1
    TopTV decoder+dish+LNB+installation: R499
    DSTV prices EXcludes dish, installation and LNB
    High Definition (HD) PVR:
    Decoder Price: R2999*
    Access Fee: R60 (per month)
    (TopTV does not have a  PVR yet – due in Nov 2010)
    Standard Definition (SD) PVR:
    Access Fee: R60 (per month)
    Standard Decoder:
    Decoder Price: R499*

    Please add your comment regarding the calculator… corrections included.

    Update on Tue 04May2010: Heard on CapeTalk567 this am: beware of (DSTV and probably TopTV) installers that install the dish, decoder etc. and then charge thousands (up to R20,000) for PVR installations.  Ask for a written quote before any work is started – even if the installation costs are included in the deal!  Ask them to include any additions like: extra cable, connectors, amplifiers, fibreglass/steel dishes, etc, etc…

    Update on Thu06May2010: Remember, another satellite TV channel is starting in South Africa on 1st June 2010: Super5Media (previously Telkom Media)
    If this article is anything to go by, then it's not worth waiting for: "Super 5 Media will offer five local channels at launch in June, including a news channel and a music channel. Other details, including pricing plans, are not yet available."  Additionally, it seems that ICASA still needs to grant them a license.  #WTF!  Although they say that they will "go live on 1 June whether it has a network licence or not."

    Here's another article about TopTV: Problems at TopTV?

    Here's an excellent step-by-step guide on how to get TopTV

    Update on Sat08May2010: 
    Where to get TopTV?: At the moment these are the stockists: Pep, Game, Makro, Dion, selected Jumbo Cash & Carry stores, CCW, Brown's and Weirs, and House & Home, and Game and Pick ‘n Pay.

    Dummies guide to TopTVhttp://www.tvsa.co.za/default.asp?blogname=news&articleid=14182
    The Lowdown: Sport On TopTV: http://www.tvsa.co.za/default.asp?blogname=news&ArticleID=14184

    TopTV contact number 011 582 9802 extension 1001
    TopTV call centre number: 08600 TOPTV (08600 86788).  If all agents are busy, please leave a message Call centre is open between 08:00 to 18:00.

    Updated on Thu20May2010:
    Online TopTV guide: from TivoZA: instructions here: http://mybroadband.co.za/vb/showthread.php?233437-The-unofficial-TopTV-tv-guide   Direct link here: http://www.nantage.com

    Update on Sun23May2010:
    Looking through the TopTV user manual, on page 58 there's a line in the specification: "Anti-taping protection" that's enabled.  I've found some people complaining (on forums) that they can't record the TopTV programs on their VCR and DVD recorder.  See this forum for updates - pls add your comments here or in the forum and let us know your recorder's make and model (if it can record and if it doesn't)

    Update on Sat29May2010: Here are my experiences in getting connected to TopTV:
    OK, so, I finally got my TopTV decoder and installation done.  Decoder purchased on Sat15May; Took 20 minutes to get through to the call centre 08600 86788 to register;  They were supposed to email me a list of installers - that list never arrived :(
    I then went to the SatsRus.co.za web site (Develex) and requested an installation - but nobody called me :(
    I then called SatsRus on 021 554-4641 and booked an installation for the next day :)
    I was very pleasantly surprised when the 2-man installation team arrived and installed the dish and decoder on time :)
    They also didn't try to up-sell me anything!  No "take this better dish" or anything like that.  Neat, fast installation!  They even tried (unsuccessfully, but no fault of their own {sorry babes}) to explain how it all worked to my wife.
    They gave me client number details etc... that night the decoder was receiving TopTV in all its clear glory :) - and I hadn't yet paid for the monthly subscription.
    Today, I tried calling the call centre - the technical line took <5 mins to answer and I explained that the signal through my video VCR and DVDR HDD recorder machines were poor - they didn't tell me, but it's because of the anti-taping software.  They recommended running the RF cable directly from the TopTV decoder directly to the other TV sets.
    Another option that I found was to purchase this Grex gadget for $89+$10 shipping (arrives in 2 weeks at local post office).
    If you have an old DSTV decoder then try that before bypassing your VCR and DVDR (see below for more anti-taping "solutions")

    I called the call centre again to get payment details for TopTV: this time their sales option took less than 15 secs to answer :)  I got an EasyPay number so that I could pay by credit card BUT it didn't work on the www.easypay.co.za web site :(
    So, I called TopTV back (again answered in less than 15 secs) and I learnt that I can only go to Shoprite stores to pay - the Internet will work later.

    I decided to pay using EFT for now, here is TopTV's banking details:

    Bank: Std Bank
    TopTV Acc Nr: 252 315 553
    Type of account: Chq
    Account holder: TopTV
    Branch Code: 019205
    Reference: use your TopTV account number  eg: 0000 17xxx

    The first month's payment must include the pro-rata amount - that's the partial month's payment for the days you were connected.  So, if you were connected on the 20th of the month of May (which has 31 days) then the pro rata amount is:  ('bouquet amount'*11)/31

    Updated on Tue01Jun2010:
    See post by MagicFlame here: http://mybroadband.co.za/vb/showthread.php?229251-Macrovision-blocking-recording-from-TopTV/page4 that describes how to bypass the MacroVision noise:
    "I connected audio-out from TopTV decoder directly to HDD recorder's audio-in.  Then connected the RFout from TopTV decoder to an old MNet decoder's RFin, and from there via its Video-out to HDD recorder's Video-in and it works.  Proper recording to HDD in stereo!  Time-shifting is also OK, so I'm a happy camper for no money spent."

    Updated on Sat05Jun2010:
    @TopTV_Wiz @toptvsa #TopTV is painful now - plz turn off the anti-taping, I want2 go out &record a program to my HDD recorder #FFS
    Evidently, the trick to bypass the anti-taping didn't work for me :(  I tried the MNet video-out "trick" - but it didn't work for me :(
    Yeah, yeah, I can wait until Nov2010 for the USB port to be enabled BUT:  I  have a HDD recorder now (with no USB input).  Why must I wait until Nov, and spend more $s to get another large HDD?
    MeThinks my #TopTV (1 week) honeymoon is nearly over :(

    Updated on Sun 4th July 2010: 
    Whoopee successfully paid my #TopTV bill using credit card on the www.easypay.co.za web site. Get your "EasyPay  Number" from the TopTV call centre

    Updated on Sat31July2010: 
    Added a quick reference sheet listing the channels on TopTV: print it out and keep it close to your remote control.
    "ChannelNumbers" worksheet: use the filters to print a sheet so that you can quickly jump to the channel you want

    Saturday, 1 May 2010

    Free SMS 31050 to get Vodacom info: Current Balance Or Call Limit Is, Or How many Available Minutes You Have

    {From Vodaworld: http://www.vodaworld.co.za/showarticle.asp?id=1810)
    Or, do you prefer a dose of jokes and riddles every now and then? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you will love Vodacom's Keyword SMS service.  Keyword SMS is an easy-to-use service that allows Vodacom Service Provider customers to send keywords via SMS in an abbreviated format, to request information relevant to their package.

    How does it work?
    SMS the "keyword" to 31050.  You’ll receive a reply SMS with the requested information. You don’t have to call in and speak to a Customer Care consultant - the answers to your questions are right at your fingertips.

    Keywords available to Prepaid and Top Up subscribers:
    for Service Summary
    CS for Call Sponsor
    RH for Recharge History
    AB for Account Balance

    Keywords available to all Vodacom subscribers:
    for Over the Air Settings
    ES for E-mail Service Status
    ACS for Adult-Content Status
    2YW for Two Year Warranty
    HELP for Help
    MENU for Available Keywords

    Keywords available to VSP Contract & Top Up subscribers:
    AB for Available Balance
    AB for Account Balance
    ADD for Address
    *AM for Available Minutes
    *AS for Available Seconds
    AT for Airtime Transfer
    BD for Banking Details
    CB for Current Balance
    *CL for Call Limit
    CS for Call Sponsor
    LI for Last Invoice
    LP for Last Payment
    MM for Used Multi-Media
    PI for Proposed Invoice
    RD for Random Riddle
    RJ for Random Joke
    *SB for Available SMS Bundle
    SP for Who is my SP?
    SS for Service Summary
    SUM for Summary
    UG for Upgrade
    VAS for Active VAS

    *Not applicable to Top Up subscribers

    Cape Town’s new tariffs and charges (rates and taxes and electricity)

    {Extracted from CityNews April 2010} The proposed new tariffs and service charges are set out in the draft budget. Water and sanitation charges will increase in line with inflation. However, electricity tariffs have risen sharply due to the Eskom increases, and solid waste removal charges have also risen to pay for new landfill and transfer station infrastructure.

    Water and sanitation charges will increase in line with inflation, and property rates increases are in some cases below inflation. However, electricity tariffs have increased sharply due to the City being obliged to pass on the tariff increases granted to Eskom by the National Energy Regulator. Solid waste removal charges have risen to pay for new landfill and waste transfer station infrastructure.

    The proposed service charge increases, given in the tables are:
    • The property rate has dropped to 0,531 cents in the rand
    • An average increase of 10% for water and sanitation
    • An increase of 18% for solid waste removal
    • An increase of 38,5% for solid waste disposal
    • An average increase of 24,6% for electricity, based on Eskom’s increase of 28,9% for this year
    • The first R200 000 of your property’s value is rates-free.

    Water and sanitation tariffs 
    Please note that the City has increased the number of billing categories, or ‘steps’, for water and sanitation.
    These new steps are better suited to the volumes people actually use.
    The first ‘Step 1’ – the free basic allocation – remains unchanged, but bigger volumes have been allocated into smaller blocks. The tariffs proposed in the budget relate to the new steps shown alongside.


    Solid waste tariffs
    There is a new charge, for ‘clean’ builder’s rubble. image

    Electricity tariffs  image

    These remain in three broad categories:
    Lifeline’ – which caters for poorer people and has no service charge,
    Domestic Low’ – with no service charge, and
    Domestic High’ – which does have a service charge.

    Examples of actual costs in each of the categories are given in the tables alongside.

    How the electricity tariffs work
    The tables below show what customers can expect to pay for electricity at the proposed new tariffs, and the examples explain what portion of purchases is made up of the free allocation, at the subsidised rate and at the normal rate.

    Examples at the LIFELINE energy rate
    • Person A buys R240 (including VAT) worth of electricity once per month.  For each purchase, he will receive 366,3 kWh, made up of 50 kWh free, 100 kWh at the subsidised rate, and 216,3 kWh at the normal rate.
    • Person B buys R60 (including VAT) once a week. For the first purchase in the month he will receive 50 kWh free, and 90,6 kWh at the subsidised rate – a total of 140,6 kWh. On his second purchase he will receive 9,4 kWh at the subsidised rate and 66.9 kWh at the normal rate – a total of 76,3 kWh.  For the third and fourth purchase of the month he will receive 74,7 kWh – all at the normal rate. If one adds all four purchases together, he also receives 366,3 kWh in the month, the same as Person A.
    • Person C normally buys R200 (including VAT) once a month.  For this he will receive 316,5 kWh made up of 50 kWh free, 100 kWh at the subsidised rate, and 166,5 kWh at the normal rate. However, in this particular month, Person C requires a small top-up amount and buys R40 worth of electricity.  Person C will receive 60,4 kWh for this purchase – charged at the normal rate – bringing the total energy purchased in the month to R240 – 366,3 kWh in total.image

    Examples at the DOMESTIC LOW energy rate

    This tariff is relatively simple. Whatever energy is purchased, the tariff remains the same and the value is a simple multiplication of tariff x units (kWh) purchased.

    Examples at the DOMESTIC HIGH energy rate
    • Person D buys 500 kWh of electricity four times a month. His normal account will contain two components: an energy charge to the amount of R455,85 and a service charge of around R52,50 for the week (seven days are used here – actual value will depend on the exact length of time between purchases).  Both of the purchases in the month (if equally spaced) will be identical.
    • Person E buys 2 000 kWh of electricity on the first of the month, resulting in an energy charge of R1 823,40, and a service charge of either R225 (for a 30-day month) or R232,50 (for a 31-day month).
    • Person F buys electricity once a year. He uses 24 000 kWh in the year, and will therefore pay R21 880,80 for energy for the year. He will also pay the service charge for 365 days, which will total R2 737,50 for the year.
    Please note that the service fee is a daily fee and works out to be the same amount over a year, whether you buy once a week, once a month, or once a year.

    • For more information, contact the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089.

    HTT comments:
    Prices will increase on 01Jul 2010.  Pre-Paid customers: see this article to see if it’s worth while to do a bulk buy purchase ahead of the increase: If you have a pre-payment meter: FAQs answered by Eskom on radio 567CapeTalk and Saving 24.8% by loading your pre-payment electricity meter
    Did you notice the 93.5% in the daily service fee for Domestic High users?  From R3.88 to R7.50 per day! That’s from R116 per month to R225, or from R1,416 per annum to R2,736 (gulp).
    BTW: you are a ‘Domestic High’ user if you use more than 800 kWh per month (average).  See here for more info: Cape Town Electricity Tariffs

    What uses up the most electricity in your home or office? (calculator)

    This is the question everyone has been asking and I too have been wondering.
    I have created an “ElectricityUsageCalculator” (Excel spreadsheet) for you to calculate your usage and where you can make savings.
    In fact, in the quest for the answer I have taken the long path of reducing my household’s electricity consumption and I thought that I’d share this information…
    Before I get to the detail, I’d like to thank the following people/organisations/forums for sharing their valuable information:
    Talk Radio 702 Power Guide: http://www.702.co.za/power/usage_list2.asp
    Eskom’s Conserving Electricity page: http://www.eskom.co.za/live/content.php?Item_ID=274&Revision=en/0
    Saving Electricity 101: http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/howmuch.html
    Why not pay those sites a visit?

    If you do want to save electricity/money try these steps (in the order listed):
    *) turn down the temperature setting on your thermostat (mine is set to 40 degrees C) – you know when it’s set right by the amount of cold water that you need to mix when you’re having a shower…. If you’re mixing a lot of cold water, then you know that your thermostat is set too high – you need to turn it down (colder), until you are mixing no cold water (or little) in your shower.
    See here: how to lower your geyser's thermostat
    Heat loss will be small on modern (or geyser‑blanket clad) geysers and piping, but the lower the thermostat temperature, the lower the losses, and the lower the electricity that is used to get the water to the thermostat temperature.
    Comment from Dave on http://energycrisis.co.za/?p=56: “I turned my geyser down from 60oC to 50oC and saved 20% on my bill”
    *) use less hot water (ie. Install a low‑flow shower head [I have an RST low flow one], and shower quickly) to save electricity – the less cold water that your geyser needs to heat up, the less electricity is used.
    *) use the ‘Electricity Usage Calculator’ to see where you ‘spend’ your electricity.
    Download from here: ElectricityUsageCalculator02.xls image
    I was amazed to see that my main “culprit” was not my geyser, but in fact my swimming pool pump! [thanks Tim Truluck for pointing this out to me!]
    Instructions for using the calculator:
    Don't edit the shaded cells....
    Step 1) In the worksheet ‘PerHourCosts’: check the ratings (W) listed [column D] and adjust to your appliances' ratings;
    (Note which appliance is the most costly to run per hour)
    Step 2) In the worksheet ‘UsageCosts’: fill in the 'hours used per item per month' [column D];
    Note: 'Cost per item per month' - the high cost items is where you can save the most

    *) Use solar power to heat your geyser: install solar panels. If you are building a new house or if you replace your geyser, then install solar panels and a time switch.  A solar‑only geyser will heat up the water more slowly (note: the thermostat plays no role in limiting the solar‑only upper temperature).  Installing a time switch in a solar installation will: 1) ensure that electricity is not used on a sunny day (i.e. on a sunny day you would rather have a slower heating up of the water by the sun, rather than use electricity and solar to heat up the water faster); 2) ensure that electricity is used so as to guarantee that there is hot water early in the morning and, in late afternoon on cold/cloudy days.
    How do I find out how much electricity something uses?
    Adapted from “Saving Electricity 101”: http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/howmuch.html
    Look at the label - nearly everything you can plug into the wall has a label that says how much electricity it uses.
    If the label only gives the number of Amps and not the number of Watts, then just multiply the Amps by 220 to get the number of Watts. (Amps x Volts = Watts. So a hot plate that uses 3 amps uses 3 x 220 = 660 Watts.
    Note that if a device is powered by a transformer (one of those great big plugs), then the transformer has converted the electricity from AC to DC, so you need to multiply by the DC voltage, not the AC voltage of 220. For example, if the device says "INPUT 9V, 0.5A", then that's 9 volts x 0.5 amps = 4.5 Watts.
    Another tip:
    *) Remember to turn off your ‘plug’ circuit breakers when you’re in “load-shedding” mode – this will ensure that your appliances are not connected to Eskom when power is turned on again – remember, when power is turned on again, there is usually a surge (over 220V) which could damage your appliances. Leave a light turned on, so that you know when power has returned, then turn your ‘plug’ circuit breaker back on again.

    {Note: This HTT calculator is also available from the article “Does a time switch on your geyser actually save electricity?”}

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