Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Here's howto: Renew your vehicle's license disc in Cape Town

A year has passed and again  it's time to renew my car's license disc.
I got the reminder by snail mail a few weeks ago (from the City of Cape Town's Road Traffic Management Corporation) and I don't have a cheque book, so I'd rather do an EFT (bank transfer).

Step 1: [Update: see online facility at the bottom of this article] Call for a unique, reference number that changes annually;  There's a telephone number on the reminder slip that I called: 0860 103089 (which routes to the same place as 021 400 4900).  It's an automated voice response system, so enter 1 (for English), then 4 (for motor vehicle queries), then 1 (for motor vehicle queries), then wait for an agent to answer.
(I waited about 8 minutes for the call to be answered.)

Step 2: Get the reference number (note: you need to call every year since this number changes each year)

Step 3: Get their banking details: 

  • City of Cape Town
  • ABSA Bank
  • Account number: 4056584569
  • Current/cheque account
  • Branch code: 632005

Step 4: Confirm your postal address - this is where they post the license disc - so no point in giving a false address in the hope of dodging those speeding fines ;)

Step 5: Do the EFT from your friendly bank's Internet Banking web site - remember to enter the reference number.

Step 6: Wait for the license disc to arrive in the post after 3 to 4 business days (sometimes shorter).

If you do want to pay by cheque: You can also renew your licence by post.  Submit your vehicle's registration number and/or a copy of the registeration papers along with a cheque made out to the City of Cape Town.

Post the cheque to:

  • City of Cape Town
  • MVR Department
  • PO Box 4552
  • Cape Town
  • 8000

If you want to pay by credit card then try this online service that charges an extra R60 handling fee excl. postage:

Link to Cape Gateway web site:

Update on Wed28July2010:
City launches new motor vehicle registration and licensing website and an online vehicle licence payment facility:  The online vehicle license payment facility allows residents to pay their vehicle licence fees by doing an electronic funds transfer (EFT) from their banking website. 

The payment procedure is easy to follow, and requires that the resident/business completes an online form on to confirm their details and obtain the City’s banking details and a deposit reference number.  Once they have this, they can then complete an EFT from their banking website. 

Residents who don’t want to wait for this information, which usually takes two working days to send, can obtain it from the City’s Call Centre on 0860 103 089. 

Once the EFT is received, the licence will be posted within five working days.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Soli Philander has been dismissed from Cape Talk radio (and Radio 702) - here's "Soli's Rhyme" or story explaining what happened

Soli we'll miss you.... I thought I'd capture his Facebook rhyme (or story explaining his side of what happened) - it might be easier for people to link to a posting rather than a Facebook comment:

This was posted by Soli as a comment on his Facebook page on 17th July 2010 @ 18h00:
When I joined Capetalk under the umbrella of Primedia
the understanding was "it's great to have your brand here"
I was to week-daily generate two hours of radio
keep the clients satisfied, help the numbers grow

All agreements that involved my other talents and skills
would be negotiated through my agent/manager (a position my wife fills)
I'll be so bold as to say in it's own way all was well, everything was fine
not only me, but my team did our best to shine

Meantime Primedia was starting this Primetalent endeavour
(and from their angle the move was decidedly clever)
Primetalent would represent all talent Primedia employs
and negotiate all their deals (this is not short, girls and boys)

This involves MC work, voice-overs, endorsements, etcetera
and payment would follow a certain set of criteria
We met, took pictures and agreed to discuss the deal
with an understanding that my scenario demands a different feel

I didn't need them (excuse me if I sound arrogant) to build my name
I didn't need them to find additional income for me - which they now claim
I did literally two jobs for them (without signing up)
and on the second one I was clear: here is the rub

I was earning a pittance (The Welcome The World Party) a laughable sum
and after all my hard work, ended up feeling glum
Also at this time my Capetalk contract was coming up for renewal
I had a signed letter assuring me employment was continual

But they suddenly developed difficulties getting the contract to me
whilst assuring me it had nothing to do with the Primetalent fee.
and then found it impossible to communicate with my manager/wife
who was not prepared to meagre fee my working life

I understand their concern, appparently there were documents signed
on which no clear parameters of my involvement had been to me defined
They asked for my position repeatedly, I repeatedly concurred with my love
which was when they decided they wanted to play tough

I was told (again) in no uncertain terms (again) that there was no other way
that it would be discussed in Joburg, that they would get back to me the next-to-next day
I felt concern, like my manager/wife alarm
my working at Capetalk was being threatened with harm

I had already worked for 5 days without a signed agreement
I was feeling under duress from management's treatment
We had an Outside Broadcast planned, it was for WC Semi-final day
I went into Capetalk to do it, I had agreed, I wouldn't let others suffer from this fray

I mailed the station manager about my considerations and my concerns
my disquiet around all the contractual twists and turns
I informed Programming of my intention to seek legal advice and not to work
but that my responsibilities towards my role in the OB I was not prepared to shirk

Programming offers me two days leave (without a contract) and warn that the OB is in danger
because of technical difficulties, not a broadcast stranger
So programming is up to date, station management has not responded to my earlier missive
If I was younger I imagine by then I would not have been so passive

When the OB got cancelled just before 11.00am I left the station
Africa Melane had agreed to do the show, in that regard there was no desperation
On leaving though, I'm slipped an unsigned copy of the contract in question
I am still confounded by that action's suggestion

Programming then calls me and asks me to put the reasons for my non-appearance on paper
which I do, 'cause by then I was thoroughly over this caper
And to once again emphasise my levels of stress
I (again) specifically employ the use of the word duress

The next day Rapport wants to synchronistically do a profile
I ask programming for input from the station, mud-slinging is not my style
By the end of day I'm suspended, gagged and informed of a disciplinary hearing
to which without a contract there's no need for adhering

But I go along believing logic will prove them wrong
ask to talk, worried that my absence without explanation was going on for far too long
I won't share with you yet the mud slung at me a week later at the so-called hearing
or the process that led up to it and made me wonder if they were law-fearing

Suffice to say, the way they chose to approach this play
does nothing to dissuade me of the fact (to this day)
that their agenda was making me part of a secondary stream of income
and when I said share fair...well, you're aware of what it's become

Programming denies an entire conversation
The charges are nothing less than character decimation
At the hearing they came waving an iron fist
whilst there was apparently no need for 1 of the nearly 30 witnesses on my list

People who were ready to speak for me and how I operate
who I have daily contact with, and to whom I relate
Now they've managed to get rid of me, and they think that they've won
and maybe they have, who knows when anything is done

The truth is when fighting exploitation
It's hard to manage the perceptions of the nation
especially if you know the workings of the media machine
where the truth can often be filtered through a screen

And when you're in dispute with a powerful organisation
the slightest wrong step can lead to devastation
but what worth our integrity if we're not prepared to fight
for what might not be profitable, but what is clearly right

And isn't it ironic, isn't it funny
that all work issues invariably revolve around money
if you ignore the hype and orchestrated hysteria
you'll find a thinking where the coin is superior

With little regard for dignity or respect
or the attendant humanity those values reflect
therefore I tell you this not for ego or delight
but only to give you access to my insight

Soli has a very large family... even his Facebook page states: "I've reached my friends limit on this page, but you can connect with me here:"

Friday, 16 July 2010

WhatsApp for Nokia Symbian phones is now available

Yes, the always-on chat app “WhatsApp Messenger” has just been (beta) released for Nokia phones (14 July 2010).  You can use it to chat (as in type messages, like Skype or GTalk) to other friends that have also installed it on their phones.  The program has had a great uptake from iPhone and Blackberry phone users… and now Nokia users can do the same. 
So, as long as you have the program installed on your phone you will be able to chat to others – just create a contact using their cell phone number.  This means no more SMSs locally and internationally.  All this for free – well, almost – WhatsApp costs $1.99 per year – BUT, this beta version is free for 90 days. 

Nokia phone requirements: Nokia S60 3rd or 5th edition Smartphone (those are phones that run Symbian operating system; N73 or newer phones) – if you don’t know what Symbian is, then your phone probably isn’t compatible.
See here for a list of Nokia cell phones and their Symbian versions:

Download the .sis file to your PC from here [796KB]: WhatsApp for Nokia phones then use Nokia’s PC Suite to install it onto your phone… else navigate to this URL using your phone’s browser:  Here’s their download page for more info.

It takes a while when installing... since it checks all your contacts cell numbers and checks if your contacts are already using WhatsApp... then you can connect with them.

I must warn you though that it keeps the Internet connection on your phone open all the time... but it doesn't send/receive data all the time... only once every 3 or so minutes (unless you are busy in a chat “conversation”). 
The beauty about this is that people can send you messages even when the program isn’t open – they appear like an SMS since the open Internet connection checks for messages every 3 or so minutes.  I have tested it and my battery life isn’t adversely affected.

Once it’s installed, it will ask you for your cell number so that others can find you by using your cell number.  No need to login or anything, it knows who you are.

Remember, it doesn’t connect to the Blackberry BB messenger service – BB users will also need to install the WhatsApp program and subscribe to the service, then use it to chat to their iPhone and Nokia friends.

Will it work on my wife’s phone? Well, to see if it’s compatible do a Google search with the phone’s model number eg: “Nokia E66” +specification
Pick one of the results and then search for “Symbian” in the page – if there’s a line like this: “Symbian OS 9.2, Series 60 v3.1 UI” then it IS compatible.  You need to look for “Series 60” v3 or v5.

What does it cost to send messages: It’s cheap… charged at data rates.  In South Africa, the unbundled data rates is about R2.00 per MB.  That’s 200c per million characters, which is 1c per 500 characters!  So, it’s as close to free as can be! 
You gotta be dumb to continue using SMSs are say R1 per local SMS for only 180 characters! (and R2 for international SMSs)

Currently Nokia users can only send text - transfer of images is only available to iPhone and Blackberry users – iPhone can also transfer audio and location.

Remember to change your status (using the Options menu) to "Available" - it looks more tech savvy than "Hey there! I'm using WhatsApp!"

“Always-on” means that there is always a “service” running on the phone – even when you’ve exited the messaging interface.  This service periodically checks the WhatsApp server for any messages for you  -if it finds one when the messaging interface is exited, then it pops up a notification on your phone like an incoming SMS.  Open up the “SMS” and it will open the WhatsApp messaging interface – all ready to read and reply.

I’ve always wondered why MXit and NimBuzz never really took off compared to Blackberry messenger (and probably now WhatsApp) – I think it’s the ‘Always on’ feature…

BTW: to all my loyal readers that have read the whole article: when I installed the beta version it said that it was licensed until July 2011 – whooppeeee 1 year free license for using the beta version.  Let me know if you also got a year.

Update on 28July2010: WhatsApp has been updated: version 2.0.0 has been updated to 2.0.6. Download from here:

Update on 01Sept2010: WhatsApp for Android beta is now available - use your Android browser to download from here:
Minimum requirements: Android OS 2.2 or above, Unlimited internet data plan

Friday, 9 July 2010

Dear driver of CapeCables van Reg Nr: CA 357-993 @ 08h00 on Fri 9th July


Please forward this note to the driver of your vehicle:

Dear driver of a white bakkie: Reg Nr: CA 357-993

I was one of your fellow road users by the Athlone off-ramp @ 08h00 this morning and I observed what you did.... you decided that you couldn’t wait another 5 seconds behind me and 3 other vehicles all travelling at the designated speed limit of 100km/h (I know this because my speed control was engaged at 100 km/h).
No, rather than waiting, you decided to overtake all 4 of us, then cut across the solid white line (yes, it’s the line that’s been there for years – not newly painted overnight) and of course, cut the leader of our pack off, and can you guess what happened to the other 3 of us?
You then sped off only to be stopped at the Athlone robots – yes, you guessed it – 5 (ok, maybe 4) seconds ahead of us.
I must admit, I didn’t really think that you were going to stop at the red light, I mean,  if a solid white line and the speed limit has no bearing on your behaviour, then why should a red light have any effect?

I hope you have a great weekend, and enjoy the vibe that fellow South Africans have created.

Best regards


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Solved! Integrating Bugzilla with MS project 2007

I have been battling for weeks trying to integrate Bugzilla items with Microsoft Project, and finally I’ve got something working.  Truth be said, I had it working a long time ago, but suddenly it stopped working – so it somehow got broken.  I couldn’t figure out what had changed and it was driving me crazy – even my colleagues around me were starting to feel the pain and could see my hair getting pulled out!

Let’s start at the beginning, and explain what I needed and how I got it done:
BugzillaWe use Bugzilla as a bug tracking tool and with each release we need to figure out which features and fixes will make it into the next release.  While Bugzilla is a great fault tracking tool, it doesn’t have the ability (AFAIK) to show when all targeted bugs will be fixed.  In other words, it shows what needs to be done, but doesn’t show when they will be fixed by the assigned developers.

image We use Microsoft Project to show load on resources (levelling) and for release planning ie: which features and bug fixes will be put into the next release.  So, it’s obvious that importing Bugzilla’s bugs into the project plan will allow us to see what can be done, by who, and by when.

Entering the constantly changing list of bugs into MS Project manually is possible, but extremely tedious, so it becomes an impossible task.  I am still looking for an automated way of doing this… but, we’ve found the next best solution:

Importing Bugzilla into MS Project:
Instead of doing the manual update thing… the next best solution is to import the list of bugs into the project plan as follows:
*) In Bugzilla: change the bugs that need to be fixed in the next release to have a common TargetMilestone.
*) In each bug, update the “Hours Left” field to the estimated number of hours that the fix will take to resolve.  Note: the “Hours Left” field is only visible if the user is a member of the Bugzilla “timetrackinggroup”.  Add peoples’ logins to the group using the “Edit groups” page: eg:$|$image*) create a view that lists all bugs that need to be imported into the plan ie: all bugs with a TargetMilestone set to “EndJulyRelease” for component “Widget” that have been modified since 2010-06-01 (the last time the bug import was done).
*) Add columns to the results screen (use the “Change columns” link) to add columns that you want to import into the project plan.
*) Export the resulting list by clicking on the “CSV” link (at the bottom of Bugzilla’s results page).  Save the .csv file to your computer – this is the file that will be imported (actually, merged) into the project plan.

*) In MS Project: open your .mpp file, click File->Open, select the .csv file that was exported from Bugzilla; the “Import Wizard” will open.  Click “Next”, then “New map” and define how the fields (in the .csv file) map to the MS project fields as follows:  On the following screens select the following:  “Merge the data into the active project”, then “Tasks”, tick “Import includes headers”, then (in the “Task mapping” screen): Task mappingClick on the pull down arrows and map each field in the text file to each of the MS project fields.  The key to this import (and subsequent imports that update already imported bugs) is the “MERGE KEY”.  Make the bug_id field the merge key by clicking on the “Set merge key” button.  This will ensure that the next imports of the updated .csv file will not insert duplicate tasks, but rather update the project tasks as identified by the Bugzilla number.
*) Ensure that the “remaining_time” field from the .csv file is mapped to MS project’s “Duration” field, and “short_desc” to “Name”.
image *) Save the map so that subsequent imports will be faster since the saved map can be used to import the data.  Click “Finish” and the data from the .csv file will be imported into MS project.  Any existing tasks with a Bugzilla number in the “Text1” field will be updated, while new tasks will be add to the end of the MS project file.
*) Add columns “Text 1” thru to “Text 14” to your Gant chart, and by showing the Bugzilla priority field next (eg: Text5) to the MS Project’s “Priority” field one can see which tasks should have a high MS Project priority that can be used for levelling.

OK, so the above description shows the mechanics for integrating Bugzilla with MS Project, but what got broken?  What changed that was driving me crazy and making me pull my hair out?  The merging the .csv file stopped working – it just imported the Bugzilla tasks over the other project tasks – ie: somehow it was ignoring the merge key! 
I managed to isolate the problem by creating a new, empty project, then pasting the original MS Project’s tasks into the new Gant chart, then the merge of the csv file worked!
This led me to the cause of the problem: I found that by deleting some of the columns in the Gant chart fixed the problem and the merge worked again…

So, if your import of .csv file stops working all of a sudden, then you can try the two solutions above (create a new .mpp file or delete some unused columns).

Update on 16Jan2011: I have now upgraded my MS Project to MS Project 2010 (version 14.0.4751.1000) and the merge from the Bugzilla CSV file imports fine and there are no problems – so no need for me to use a new, empty project :)  Hoooray!

Update 23 March 2011: If you prefer to import Bugzilla bugs into a spreadsheet directly without having to do the following:
1) go to the Bugzilla web page,
2) open (or create) the view of the bugs you are interested in,
3) export the file to a .csv file or copy and paste it into an Excel spreadsheet.
In other words, if you don’t want to do the above each and every time you want an update, then this can be automated by using some Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) script in Excel that will download the content of a view via its CSV file, and display its content in Excel (almost like an API).  Omar BELKHODJA explains what to do – thanks for writing the blog post and for sharing!:

Live Traffic Feed


Be notified of
page updates
it's private
powered by

Copyright © 2008 HandyTechTipper. All articles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 South Africa license, unless where otherwise stated.