Sunday, 28 March 2010

Configuring ZenCart and PayPal: Error 10413 solved

Now that PayPal is coming to South Africa, I figured that I’d upgrade my ZenCart site to connect to PayPal’s express checkout. 
I enabled ZenCart’s “PayPal Express Checkout” payment module and started configuring the parameters.
Oops, I needed to enter some API credentials – so I followed the instructions on how to get those.
I upgraded my PayPal account to “Premier” level so that I could accept payments and get an ‘API username’ and ‘API Password’ and ‘Signature’, and pointed it to “Sandbox” mode.
Sandbox mode? – yup, mmm… that should have got me thinking – but it didn’t. 
I then (naively) tried to process a transaction from my ZenCart using my real PayPal logins and got the following error “10002 Security error - Security header is not valid”.  That gave me further clues that I couldn’t use my real PayPal logins and API settings and use the “Sandbox” mode.  I needed to create new dummy accounts and logins and APIs on the sandbox.PayPal server.

imageSo, I registered as a developer on the site and downloaded the “PayPal_Sandbox_UserGuide” and a few clicks later I was creating the sandbox parameters and users that I could use to test my shopping cart.  I created a few users with different accounts, in different parts of the world, with lots of money so that they could purchase to their hearts’ content.

Then I got to the difficult part. I thought that it would be easy to go from the shopping cart to PayPal and process the payments – BUT, it wasn’t – sometimes the purchases went through fine – others it didn’t.  I didn’t realise that the small transactions worked fine – but not the ones over R1,000.  I kept on getting the error “10413 Transaction refused because of an invalid argument. See additional error messages for details. - The totals of the cart item amounts do not match order amounts.”  I Goggle’d a bit – but nothing really helped, until I found this posting by Levi Senft: “ZenCart and PayPal: 10413 Transaction refused because of an invalid argument. Solved!”.  The posting explains how the comma separator is the cause of the problems, as well as a fix.
I modified the paypalwpp.php file as directed and voila – it was solved.  No more error 10413 (that was really starting to haunt me!)

I’m looking forward to many transactions facilitated by PayPal in South Africa.

Update 07April2010:
I’m not sure why, but I started getting the 10413 error again.  Perhaps I didn’t test the above solution thoroughly enough.  I Google’d some more and found this solution by “gmail”:
PayPalZenCartError10413That seemed to work first time – but beware it’s not thoroughly tested.  You can download the modified paypalwpp.php file to save you some typing:  It INcludes both fixes described above  paypalwpp.php

If this still doesn’t help you – then look at the log files: /includes/modules/payment/paypal/logs (ensure that the folder is writable (ie: chmod 777))

I then had problems when shipping charges were included….
The same problem as “Zubey” had here.
Whenever tax was added to on either products or shipping. If tax is removed from both it all works fine.

[ITEMAMT] => 0.20
[AMT] => 0.20
[SHIPPINGAMT] => 0.00 **** when this = 0
[TAXAMT] => 0.00 & this = 0, all works fine ****
[L_NUMBER0] =>
[L_QTY0] => 1
[L_NAME0] => TEST Product No.2 $0.20
[L_AMT0] => 0.20

A bit more searching found me this article:
and I changed these settings and it worked:
Config->My Store-> Basis of Product Tax=Shipping and Basis of Shipping Tax=Shipping
and in Module->Shipping (for each shipping module set): Tax Basis = Store

I hope this is the last time I say that “it’s working” and it isn’t!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Connecting your laptop to your TV (make your own 7 pin SVideo to RCA cable)

Following on from the article describing how to make a 4 pin SVideo to RCS cable, Anonymous requested the cable for a 7 pin SVideo to RCS cable.  So here are the instructions… note, I haven’t tested this – just info that I’ve put together from the site. 

So, if you have a laptop with a 7 pin S-Video output and want to watch a DVD on your TV (that didn’t have an S-Video input), here’s how to make your own cable (and save about R150). 
See below for the wiring – you’ll need a ceramic capacitor in the wiring.
Remember, the S-Video plug does not “carry” video signal and the audio – you will need 2 cables: 1 for the video (this one) and another for audio.
image {Thanks to for the images and diagrams pasted below !}

Video cable:

Here’s a 7 pin S-Video plug: image (plugged into the laptop’s S-Video output, and the TV end soldered onto a RCA jack and plugged into the video-in socket on the TV)

Here’s the RCA plug: image  

Here’s the wiring of the S-Video to RCA cable:

Pin S-Video




GND Ground (Y)



GND Ground (C)



Y Intensity (Luminance)



C Color (Chrominance)

Signal through 470pF Ceramic Capacitor


- -

- -


V Composite Video

- -


VGND Composite Ground

- -

Notes (from
* Those 7 pin connectors seen on some PC graphics cards are non-standard connectors for carrying S-video.
* Generally the first four pins on those 7-pin connectors on the same places as the standard four pin S-video connector have practically always the same functionality as those pins in S-video connector.
* The other three pins can have then some extra signals which are not part of S-video (usually some pins of those carry composite video and some control signals, but the use of those three extra pins vary quite much).

* Larger capacitor values will also work, but cause picture to become "softer".
* The impedances and signal levels not matched exactly right, but near enough to work acceptably.

Audio cable:
The audio cable had a small stereo jack on it and plugged into the laptop’s headphone jack, and the TV end had two RCA male connectors and plugged into the audio-in (“Left and Right”) sockets on the TV.
While investigating this article I Googled into which is an absolute mine of valuable information regarding pinouts of cables and connectors for all sorts of devices.  If you need to know how to wire up a connector or cable, then will be your last stop!image

If you have a pre-payment meter, then you can save 24.8% on your electricity if you buy now, only 6 days to go!

Eskom electricity tariffs will go up by 24.8% on 01 April 2010 - that leaves 6 days for you to stock up on cheaper electricity:
I'm going to save that 24.8% by pre-purchasing as much electricity as I can afford before 01 April 2010 – just like I did last year (and the year before).

Once I've purchased all that electricity, I'll want to make it last as
loooong as possible - I'll do that by checking where the biggest savings can be made by re-analysing my household's usage and cut down on the most expensive appliances: Saving electricity tips

See here for this posting (still relevant) for all the answers and the "Electricity Tariff Calculator tool":
Beat Eskom price increases

This year's increase details:

When are the tariffs going up?
@ 23h59 on Wed night 31 March 2010.
How much will the increases be?
2010's increase is, on average 24.8% (see here for NERSA’s media release)

The posting answers questions like:

How full can your pre-payment meter go?

How much can I purchase on my credit card?

Which tariff plan am I on?

If I fill my meter up too much will I lose my free 50 kWh per month?

And while you're saving money, why not ready the blog "Why pay cash for pre-paid electricity when you can use your credit card?" and earn cash back and "reward points".

image image

How to save electricity:

*) turn down the temperature setting on your thermostat
- here's where and how: Where is my geyser's thermostat? How do I turn it down?
*) use less hot water (ie. Install a low‑flow shower head
). See here to purchase RST Profilence (RST contact details) and here for a report on savings (water and electricity
*) Shower, don't bath: see here for report on how much less power a shower uses than a bath
*) Install a geyser blanket to insulate your geyser and pipes. See here for a report on savings when using a geyser blanket (30% improvement)
*) use the ‘
Electricity Usage Calculator’ to see where you ‘spend’ your electricity.
*) Reduce your pool pump's ON time per day
*) Install ceiling insulation. See here for more info and suppliers
*) Lastly, 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. See here for non-savings installing a time switch if you don't have a solar geyser: non-savings report

Oh, and while we’re talking about rate increases – don’t forget that Metrorail plans to increase train fares on April 1.  The fare increase, the first since 2003, will see customers paying between R40 and almost R100 more than the current prices for a Metroplus monthly ticket.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Afrihost: uncapped ADSL – what an amazing email!

Yup, I’m a client of Afrihost – so now you know.  Great price for a great offering… If you haven’t heard yet, then, well, really – where have you been?  South Africa’s uncapped ADSL war is well under way with MWeb offering their uncapped ADSL @R219 per month, then Afrihost following soon after undercutting the MWeb price

Here’s the Afrihost offering: 

image image
Yes, starting from R197 per month (excluding ADSL line), no contract, month to month.
Read here for more about the Afrihost offering.

But that’s not what this article is about.  I wanted to publicly congratulate Afrihost’s CEO, Gian Visser for the excellent email that he sent to his clients about the uncapped ADSL offering.  As I read it I found myself saying to myself what a well written and attention grabbing email!  Hat-tip to you Gian and judging by your Tweet “Response to uncapped ADSL offerings has been epic. We're working flat out to deal with all enquiries #Afrihost”, the offering is being received extremely well.  It seems that it deserves it!

I really love the pizza metaphor/analogy.  Also, there are paragraphs explaining to the un-initiated where the pitfalls are, and even explain the cost cross-over points when it makes sense to go for UNcapped or not (nice, very nice).  All you marketing types out there – study this, and study it well!

To all that didn’t receive the email, here it is – enjoy!:

From: Gian -
Sent: 24 March 2010
To: HandyTechTipper
Subject: Is Uncapped ADSL right for you?

Hi HandyTechTipper

Today we're launching an exciting, 'top-secret' product that we have been testing over the past few months that we believe will change the face of the internet in South Africa.

Last week a similar product was launched to much fanfare by another ISP and to be honest it did surprise us that someone beat us to the punch - So massive kudos to them!

However, we take pride in being an ADSL market innovator so the good news is we are also ready to offer this to you now - And at the best price available in the market today!

There's a classic truth in business that in order to be successful, simply find out what clients crave, then create it and give it to them.

When we launched our R29 per GB offer almost 6 months ago to the day we knew that South African users craved more affordable ADSL.

At that time most ISP's charged around R70 per GB (and many still do!) so our revolutionary move really stunned and shook the ISP industry.

When we announced the offering we stated that one of the things we hoped would happen was that through that offer we would put pressure on the bigger incumbents and that they'd be forced to come to the party and reduce their prices.

We sincerely believed that we could be the catalyst that caused broadband prices to plummet in South Africa and that the internet would become more and more affordable for everyone.

Well the absolutely fantastic news is that 6 months later this has now become a reality in South Africa!

So it's my pleasure today to announce that we will be launching the first phase of Afrihost Uncapped ADSL!

And the great news is that our Uncapped packages will start from only R197 per month.

You pay a flat monthly fee and you can use the internet freely without having a cap or a set amount of GBs to use each month!

Please note though that Uncapped will not be the perfect solution for everyone - I'll go over some of the considerations you need to take when deciding between Uncapped and Capped later in this mail.

We will offer different uncapped packages based on the speed you wish to download at viz. 384 kbps, 512 kbps and 4096 kbps.

Here are the details of our new uncapped packages that we will be offering:
(The prices do not include the applicable line rental costs through Telkom - The costs are for the ADSL data only)

For Uncapped 386 kbps you'll pay R197 per month
For Uncapped 512 kbps you'll pay R297 per month
For Uncapped 4096 kbps you'll pay R497 per month

*Please Note*
The Uncapped 4096 is available for purchase right now through our website or via your Client Zone.

Initially we are only making the Uncapped 4096 kbps package available so that we can comprehensively test our Uncapped performance.

We pride ourselves in the service we deliver and we always want to give the absolute best to our clients - So we want to fully test these uncapped solutions before they become part of our standard product offering.
We want to ensure that any snags are ironed out before we make them globally available.
We value our reputation of providing great products and service too highly to risk rushing this offering.
As we originally planned to do with our R29/GB offering we are limiting the number of signups for now.

However, if you do signup for one of the available packages in the initial beta testing stage you will lock this package and price in for as long as you are with us (although we are not planning on increasing prices)
The Uncapped 512 and Uncapped 386 will be available for purchase as soon as we've finished monitoring the Uncapped 4096 performance.

You can leave your email with us on our site for any of the other options and we will keep you fully updated and let you know as soon as they are available.

Here are answers to some questions you may have: =========
Are there any contracts for our Uncapped service?
You can cancel before the 25th of any month in your Client Zone and your service will stop on the first of the next month. If you cancel after the 25th then you will be charged for the following month and your service will be cancelled on the 1st of the following month

Where do I sign up and if I get it today will I pay the full monthly amount?
You can upgrade to Uncapped (but only to Uncapped 4096 at the moment) in the 'My Connectivity' section in your Client Zone.
If you signup today you will be billed pro-rata for the remainder of the month. For example if it is a 30 day month and you signup with 10 days to go you will be billed for 1/3rd of the package price.
(Please note that if you want to upgrade to this before month end you need to do this today as from tomorrow until the 1st of next month you will be unable to as we will have already sent the payment details through to the bank
But don't worry - you will be able to upgrade from the 1st of next month if you miss today)

How can I pay for the Uncapped service?
You can pay monthly via either debit order or credit card.
Unfortunately at this time we do not accept EFT transfers or Bank deposit payments.

How do I know if Uncapped ADSL is for me? What's the difference between Capped and Uncapped?
The 3 things you need to take into account when deciding whether to go for an Uncapped solution are:
1. Overall Usage vs Overall Cost 2. Number of places you connect from 3. Capped vs Uncapped speed

1. Overall Usage vs Overall Cost:
If you are currently on a Capped package you need to look at how many GBs you use on average every month (or plan to use) and the speed of your Telkom line. You can then decide whether the Uncapped solution makes sense for you.
For a 384 kbps line if you move less than about 7 GBs a month it makes sense to stay on Capped.
For a 512 kbps line if you move less than about 11 GBs a month it makes sense to stay on Capped.
For a 4096 kbps line if you move less than about 17 GBs a month it makes sense to stay on Capped.

Please bear in mind that the above calculations use R29 per GB as a base average and do not take into account the R14,50 topup special we run - so if you take advantage of this then you need to take this into account for your costing.

2. Number of places you need to connect from:
The Uncapped packages allows only one connection for each account while the Capped packages allow many simultaneous connections from different locations for each account.
A Capped package is limited by the amount of GBs allowed but not by the number of locations or telephone numbers that can make use of it.
An Uncapped package is locked to one telephone number and is limited by the number of locations you can connect from but not by the number of GBs you can use. Only one user is allowed to use an Uncapped package.
This means that if you are accessing your ADSL account from several different locations (e.g. from home AND work) then this will work for a Capped account but not for an Uncapped one.
If you'd like Uncapped at both locations you'd need to buy a separate Uncapped package for each.

3. Capped vs Uncapped Speed:
The performance of Capped accounts and Uncapped accounts differ in subtle ways no matter the company you choose to use.
Generally Uncapped ADSL runs off a higher 'contention ratio' than Capped ADSL.
This means that generally more users are allowed for a certain chunk of bandwidth in Uncapped than in Capped.
This means that the number of users downloading at any one time affects Uncapped more than Capped. At any given moment if a ton of users are busy simultaneously then Uncapped will be slightly slower than Capped.

A very simplistic metaphor for this would be:
Uncapped is like eating at a Pizza place on 'All You Can Eat' night. The speed you get your separate single slices of pizza delivered to you is dependent on how busy the restaurant is at that moment. This means it may take slightly longer to eat a whole pizza but you can eat more over time.

Capped is like eating at that same Pizza place but ordering the pizza size you want off the menu - you'll get your full pizza quicker and can eat it faster but you have a set amount to enjoy.

In essence Capped is a slightly premium service if speed is a massive issue to you while Uncapped is the way to go if solid speed is good enough and you don't want to worry about getting capped at any time of the month.

You will find that the speed of Capped vs Uncapped most differs during office hours - Thus if speed is of primary importance to you during office hours then Capped may be the best solution for you.

Why are you only offering the 4096 kbps option now and why are you limiting the number of signups?
Quite simply we want to fully test these uncapped solutions before they become part of our standard product offering.
We pride ourselves in the service we deliver and we always want to give the absolute best to our clients - So we want to fully test these uncapped solutions before they become part of our standard product offering.
We want to ensure that any snags are ironed out before we make them globally available.
We value our reputation of providing great products and service too highly to risk rushing this offering.
The truth is we could probably launch all the packages now and open them up to all but we first want to test the performance and integrity of the offering and we believe the best way to do this is by testing the fastest possible uncapped solution first.
We are very confident that this product will stand up superbly and that we will be able to launch the other uncapped offerings very soon!

How many 4096kbps accounts are you going to sell during the 'testing' phase?
At the moment we are going to sell at least 1,000 of these accounts but it may be more depending on performance and uptake.

When will you launch the Uncapped 384 kbps and Uncapped 512kbps offerings?
We aim to offer them within the next few weeks (or sooner) depending on how the testing of the 4096 kbps accounts go. Our first priority is to ensure that we deliver a rock solid uncapped service that will be a pleasure for our clients to use. We promise not to compromise quality and as such we are going to test our system comprehensively before opening up all products.

Is this a truly uncapped service? Are there any catches? Can I really use as much as I want?
Unless you literally move hundreds of GBs per month this service will be uncapped for you with no catches for you
The vast majority of our Uncapped clients will be able to use as much as they want.
However, we will take action on the very small minority who through their usage start affecting all of our other clients' internet experience.
It is our duty to make sure that a very few will not ruin our Uncapped solutions for everyone.
Our primary concern is for the majority of our clients. If there are individuals that are putting strain on the network and affecting our other clients negatively we reserve the right to stop offering them the service.
Our uncapped service is designed for a real person sitting behind their computer who wants to be able to visit websites, download email, watch YouTube, use Skype and update Facebook as much as they want without worrying about the traffic they're using.

It is not designed for computer programs that are setup to continuously download 24/7, 30 days a month.
The honest truth is that if it is your intention to setup programs to download movies, music & whatever else every single hour of the day, every day of the month then these uncapped packages are not for you.
We want to make this clear upfront so that nobody is disappointed or surprised later.

But rest assured:
We will not even consider stopping your account unless you are moving literally hundreds of GBs per month.

What should I do if I'm torn between Capped and Uncapped?
My suggestion would be to try our Uncapped and see if it is for you.
You can simply go into your Client Zone and change to Uncapped from there. There are no contracts so if you find you prefer Capped for whatever reason then you can always return to Client Zone and go back to Capped from the following month.
You can see more details of our Uncapped packages here:

We have included all Frequently Asked Questions here (and we'll continually be updating this page as new questions come in)

As always if you are unsure about anything or have any other questions please let us know!

Warm regards

P: 011 612 7200
F: 086 561 0000

Monday, 22 March 2010

Payment gateways for web sites in South Africa

This article is about the pains and difficulties that I’ve experienced in trying to integrate ZenCart with a (credit Card) payment gateway in South Africa.  There has been a lot of talk about which shopping cart software to use (ZenCart, VirtueMart, osCommerce, Comersus, CubeCart, WHMCS, WP eCommerce, UberCart).  I’ve decided to use ZenCart and VirtueMart – mainly because I’ve needed them integrated into a Content Management System (CMS) – but that’s another story.

image image image image image image image

The criteria for choosing a payment gateway were (in order of priority):
* Based in South Africa
* easy (or cheap, off-the-shelf) integration with ZenCart
* low or zero monthly charges
* no charges until the site went into production
* competitive commissions on credit card transactions
* competitive per transaction fees

Our e-commerce site was going to be a low volume site to start with – so the monthly costs were the scary part and I was on the lookout for a zero monthly fee gateway…

When designing my e-Commerce site, I Google’d around and saw that there seemed to be a working, off-the-shelf integration module for ZenCart-and-NetCash and some reviews saying that it was a relatively easy integration.

The MacGeek site had a discussion “Payment gateways for websites in South Africa – a crowdsourcing experiment” that brought together some frustrated developers trying to find the best services. 
There was also a ZenCart plugin to NetCash for R100 and others – but that site and software is no longer available (or didn’t work?).  Various people complained that although the plugin processed the payment, it did not record the payment or the order in the order page in the ZenCart admin page, it did not send an email detailing the order to the administrator or the client, so a payment is made without knowledge of the administrator. VERY frustrating.

PayPal is an option – especially with FNB’s announcement that it would be representing PayPal in South Africa – but when?  For now – I looked around and here’s what I found:

The has very useful information and this is where I think I started smiling :)
The article “New developments on the super merchant front and announcement of PayPal launch in SA” lists a few options: PayFast: offering credit card payment facility and a PayFast voucher system to their existing instant EFT and Ukash payment options and also offer free payment modules – see below for links to download them for free!  

Setcom have separated and rebranded their services and their super merchant service is now called MonsterPay. Setcom is now solely the credit card payment gateway service for online retailers with bank merchant accounts, and SID (or Secure Instant Deposit) is their web-based instant EFT service.


PayFast have free payment modules (click to download them) for ZenCart 1.3.8a, VirtueMart 1.1.3, VirtueMart 1.0.15osCommerce 2.2, CubeCart 4.3.0, CubeCart 3.0.18, WHMCS 4.1.2, WP eCommerce 3.7.5.
I must say, PayFast have HTT’s endorsement for a very well thought out web site – very informative and I had my ZenCart integrated with PayFast’s payment gateway in less than 2 hours!  Free driver, well written “Integration Guide” with test logins and passwords available on the web site – wonderful!  (Hat-tip to the technical team @ PayFast).  Oh, and their driver worked flawlessly – with a gr8 ZenCart install package.  This is the only driver that HTT actually installed and tested – no need to look any further – unless one of the other vendors would like me to do that for them?
Rates are very good too – with no monthly fee, no setup fee.  Just a transaction fee (R2) and competitive commission (4.9%). Excl. VAT.

Mygate have free payment modules (click to download them) for OsCommerce, Joomla with VirtueMart Version 1.0.12, Joomla with VirtueMart Version 1.5.3, Cube Cart, Cube Cart version 4, ZenCart, Comersus

Setcom have free payment modules for OsCommerce module and ZenCart module.
BUT, fees: there’s a monthly fee (R250), setup fee (R250).

PayGate have free payment modules: OSCommerceZenCart, VirtueMart, Drupal Ubercart, CS-Cart
Pricing is provided on request (after filling out a form – WTF!)

NetCash: As mentioned above, this is where I started my journey – thinking that there was a cheap (R100) plugin for NetCash and ZenCart – but, when I tried it, I was horribly disappointed.  I landed up wasting a few long frustrating nights doubting my ZenCart (and php) skills.  The plugin processed the payment, BUT it did not record the payment nor the order in the order page in the ZenCart admin page, and it did not send an email detailing the order to the administrator or the client, so a payment is made without knowledge of the administrator. VERY frustrating.  It was then that I started looking for another driver and came across these other free payment modules.  The other vendors have woken up to the need to make integration to their gateways a painless (and seamless) exercise. 
NetCash – here’s some constructive advice: best you wake up and provide drivers similar to the quality of PayFast - else I doubt whether you’ll get very many eCommerce sites connecting up.
Fees: R160 monthly fee (only kicks in after your first real transaction); R1.00 per transaction; Commission on Credit Card transactions 5.0%

Moneybookers: Also has free integration modules.  See here for the list
Fees are very low too: 2.9%: Merchant fees  and other rates
No monthly fees, no setup charges.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour route on Google Earth

It’s the final countdown until the start of this year’s cycle race in Cape Town.  Over 35,000 cyclists from around the world participate and this year is no different.  If you haven’t competed before – then you’ll be looking for a route map – there’s one on the official web site – it’s a 1MB pdf file (but not very detailed).
Go here if you need the route profile.
But that’s not what I was after… in this day and age, I wanted an overlay of the route onto Google Earth – I couldn’t find this so I decided to create my own.  I also wanted a route to load into my Garmin GPS.
I created the route using Garmin’s MapSource program (version 6.13) I then used its “View->View in Google Earth” feature to transfer it to Google Earth. 
Then, in Google Earth, I saved the route using “Save to my places” and then “Save place as” functions.

See the route below (in pink):
image   image image

The route in words:
The start is in the city centre, outside the Civic Centre.  Travel along the M3 to Lakeside where you will be diverted on to Boyes Drive. Rejoin Main Road at Kalk Bay after a steep descent from Boyes Drive.  Take the coastal road to Simonstown and then go past the entrance to the Cape Point Nature Reserve. Continue to Scarborough and on to Oceanview, missing the Kommetjie Hill.  Then Chapman’s Peak and up Suikerbossie and along the coast to Greenpoint.

So, here are the files:
Google Earth .kmz file of the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour
and the Garmin GPS database file of the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour 
and while I was at it… I created a .kmz for The Bay Cycle Tour (usually ridden 2 weeks before The Argus)

If you don’t have Google Earth, then download it here [10MB]:  download

Using the .kmz files:
Once Google Earth is installed;
Download the .kmz files and then double click on the .kmz file – Google Earth will then open an you will see an overlay (pink line) of the route of the cycle race.
Repeat for the other .kmz file

If you’re not a cyclist then you can download the race day road closures here.

image   image   imageimage image

Update on 09 Mar 2010:
After posting this info on, BBJSportGuy mentioned that there’s a site that’s been doing this for ages now!  MapMyRide – lists routes for all sorts of rides all over the world!

Here's the link for The Argus: 

OR click here to see an interactive route map of The Argus: View Interactive Map on


Sunday, 7 March 2010

Buying a house? Here’s how to see what it’s worth and what houses around it are worth, and more…

What if you could type in any address in Cape Town and find out how much that property is worth – for free?
What if you wanted to find out who currently owns the property – for free?
What if you wanted to find out how large the property is – for free?
What if you wanted to find out how large the living space is – for free?
What if you wanted to find out who owns the property – for free?
What if you wanted to find out what the ERF number is – for free?
What if you wanted to find out the market value (as of 01 July 2009) - for free?
What if you wanted to find out the type of property, the roof covering (eg: tile), common walls, type of walls (eg: plastered) – for free? 
What if you wanted to find out how many stories, and bedrooms there are – for free?
What if you wanted to find out when the residence was built – for free?
What if you wanted to find out if there’s a garage and how big it is – for free?
What if you wanted to find out if there’s a swimming pool and how big it is – for free?
What if you wanted to find out if there are any other attached structures and how large – for free?
What if you wanted to find out how much the residences around the property were last sold for – for free?


You guessed it – all the above info is available for free on the City of Cape Town’s GV2009 Provisional Valuation Roll – just click here, enter the number of the residence, then the street name (don’t enter “road” or “Street” or “Way”, etc.), then hit enter.
Click on the link in the “Valuation Reference” column to view the property’s data.
Look out for page ‘2’ on “DETACHED STRUCTURE DETAILS” to see more details eg: Pool or Maid’s Quarters

Other search types are also possible: by ERF, by Farm, by Sectional Title, by Reference.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Converting Google Earth Lat and Long to coordinates that you can enter into your GPS

Following on from my blog about converting Google Maps URL into Lat and Long to enter into your GPS, here’s some info on how to convert from Google Earth to GPS coordinates.
Open Google Earth program and navigate to the location that you are interested in (search or fly there).
Click ‘Add placemark’
Drag the placemark to the spot that you want the GPS coordinates for (you will notice that the “New Placemark” window will open)
Click “OK”
Right click on the newly created placemark
Select the “Save place as…”
Enter a filename to save the placemark to your computer (eg: filename.kmz)
Browse to the file on your computer (using Internet Explorer)
Rename the file to have a .zip extension (eg:
Double click the .zip file and it should open the zip file’s contents to show a file called doc.kml
Right click on doc.kml file and select “View”
The file should open and then search for <coordinates>"
The GPS coordinates should then be displayed that you can enter into your GPS
eg: <coordinates>31.07549643928536,-17.79160330480021,0</coordinates>
Lat: 17°47'29.77"S, Long: 31° 4'31.79"E

See here for a GPS Latitude and Longitude Converter

If you are not familiar with latitude and longitude, here is a crash course in navigation
Lines of latitude and longitude are hypothetical lines on the surface of the Earth.
On the Earth, lines of latitude are circles of different size.
The longest (largest in diameter) is the equator, whose latitude is zero, while at the poles, at latitudes 90° north and 90° south (or -90°), the circles shrink to a point.
On the Earth, lines of constant longitude (meridians) extend from pole to pole, and cross the lines of latitude.
Every point on the surface of the Earth has coordinates where a given line of latitude and a give line of longitude intersect (cross).
To sum it up, latitude is measured from the equator, with positive values going north (0 to 90) and negative values going south (0 to -90).
Longitude is measured from the Prime Meridian (which is the longitude that runs through Greenwich, England), with positive values going east (0 to 180) and negative values going west (0 to -180).
So, for example, 65 degrees west longitude, 45 degrees north latitude is -65 degrees longitude, +45 degrees latitude. Now that the designations (and reasons for them) are perfectly clear, here is the set of formulae if you need to do this manually.

Degrees Minutes Seconds to Degrees Minutes.m (GPS)
Degrees = Degrees, Minutes.m = Minutes + (Seconds / 60)

Degrees Minutes.m to Decimal Degrees
.d = M.m / 60, Decimal Degrees = Degrees + .d

There are 60 minutes in a degree and 60 seconds in a minute; 3600 seconds in a degree. There are 360 degrees in a complete circle or sphere but in all longitude and latitude measurements, the total of the degrees is expressed as 2 halves of 180 degrees each.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Getting GMail from multiple computers: “Recent” mode

I often set up peoples’ computers to fetch their GoogleMail from multiple computers (eg: home and work).  They don’t want their home PC to remove the email from the server so that their work PC doesn’t see the emails any more.  I found this post describing what to do: Using POP on multiple clients or mobile devices
Gmail's 'recent mode' makes sure that all messages are made available to each client, rather than only to the first client to access new mail.

Recent mode fetches the last 30 days of mail, regardless of whether it's been sent to another POP client already.

Setting up 'recent mode':
In your POP client settings (ie: in your email program on your PC), replace '' in the 'Username' or 'Email' field with ''  (leave out the 's)

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