Sunday, 27 March 2011

Gun owners in South Africa – if your Competency Certificate has expired then you have until Sun 10 April 2011 to renew it

The deadline for the renewal of Competency Certificates that expired on or before 10 January 2011 is set for 10 April 2011
Midnight on Sunday 10 April 2011 is the deadline for every gunowner whose competency certificate ‘expired’ on or before 10 January 2011 to apply to renew it, or face severe penalties. 
If that applies to you, then complete the ‘SAPS 517(g)’ form and hand it in to your local Firearms Control Officer asap:

Prior to the promulgation (Govt Gazette 33871 of 17 December 2010) of “Certain Provisions of the Firearms Control Amendment Act, 2006 (Act No 26 of 2006)” there wasn’t proper provision for the renewal of competencies.

This much under-publicized fact affects many firearm owners and in an effort to keep gun owners informed, South African Gunowners Association (SAGA) has placed an advert in the Sunday Times which I scanned in:

Pasted below and also available here:

This URGENT NEWS could have escaped the attention of gunowners who neglected to spend their December/January holidays reading through government gazettes and searching the papers for ministerial edicts.  The urgent news is that your failure to renew ‘expired’ competency certificates could gravely endanger lives – the lives of your precious, hard-won firearm licences.
NOTE: The police’s own (penalty-free?) neglect to quickly publicize the facts and to spur firearm licence-holders into timely action probably promotes this new development to the rank of one of the SAPS’ ‘best kept secrets’.

Upright citizens who own one or more firearms usually try to comply with the laws of the land - provided they know what is expected of them, and provided what is expected of them is fair, reasonable and (hopefully) practical.

The much under-publicized, but newsworthy, fact is that midnight on Sunday 10 April 2011 is the deadline set by the Minister of Police for every gunowner - whose competency certificate ‘expired’ on or before 10 January 2011 - to apply to renew it.  He also warned that the penalties for failure to comply would be severe, so
* Despite the short notice;
* Despite the virtual silence of the SAPS on the subject;
* Regardless of when (if ever) the validity of your firearm licence ‘expires’;
* Despite the chaos that already exists within the Central Firearms Registry; and
* Thankless though the task may be;

It is in your own best interests to check your competency certificates NOW and apply to renew them if they (unlike your real competence) have expired.

If you are among the many thousands who could be affected by this Notice, complete the (brand-new) form SAPS 517(g) and hand it in to your local Firearms Control Officer asap. Keep a copy, get a receipt, etc etc in case you need evidence of your innocence. (The seven page application/declaration form should be available from police stations - if they have run out of stock, you can download and print it out from the link on SAGA’s website
The SAPS has promised that the position of those firearm owners who have already applied by using the now outdated form SAPS 517 (i.e. without that important little ‘g’) will not be prejudiced and these people need not repeat the exercise using an SAPS 517(g).  Prior to the promulgation (Govt Gazette 33871 of 17 December 2010) of “Certain Provisions of the Firearms Control Amendment Act, 2006 (Act No 26 of 2006)” there wasn’t proper provision for the renewal of competencies.

This IMPORTANT NOTICE is issued in the public interest by the SA Gunowners' Association (A non party-political, non-profit association of concerned citizens) PO Box 35203, Northway, 4065 * Fax 086-553-9615


Is your Adobe Flash crashing (your Firefox browser)?

Ever since I upgraded either to FireFox browser version 3.6.15 OR Adobe Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash) version 10 my Firefox browser crashed
So, all flash games and even YouTube stopped working for me! :(
CrashReporter comes up and reports the problem to the Mozilla team – but no response from them… luckily for me Firefox 4.0 has just been released – so rather than try to downgrade Firefox to an older version, I decided to take the plunge and upgrade to version 4 – and risk some of my extensions/addins not working in this brand new, fresh version.

It worked, and now my flash sites work – and some Firefox extensions don’t work (yet)

image   image

If you do want to debug your Flash installation then go here for more details here: the Mozilla Knowledge Base

Monday, 21 March 2011

What’s the cheapest cell phone to run WhatsApp on?

My young son wants a cell phone – he’s got R1,000 to spend.  So, what’s the cheapest phone that can run WhatsApp so that he doesn’t waste all his airtime on SMSs and calls that could be handled by a short instant message?  Here’s my story on how I bought his phone brand new Android phone for R849 incl. VAT and everything else.

I did a lot of hunting around for Nokia phones and even looked at the LG and Samsung offerings – but all the phones that I could find in the WhatsApp minimum requirements list cost over R1,200.

I then looked at the WhatsApp download page and realised that I was overlooking other types of phones that WhatsApp supports: iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry.  I ruled out iPhone and BlackBerry due to cost, but that left Android – I hadn’t looked at any Android phones except HTC devices – but perhaps there was an entry level Android phone below R1,000?
The WhatsApp download page specifies that it can run on any device with Android OS 2.1 or above.

I Googled a bit and found references to the Vodafone 845 as being a great phone.  It was launched on South Africa in Aug 2010
It is a branded version of the Huawei “Joy” handset.
Here’s a great review on and also shows “what’s in the box”: Battery, USB Cable, Wall Charger, Basic Manual, Headphones.
It is a 3G phone (HSDPA 3.6 Mbps), with GPS (with A-GPS support), accelerometer, touch screen, WiFi, BlueTooth, camera (3.15 MP), FM radio, on Android 2.1 (Éclair).  I was surprised on the quality of the phone – it felt good and solid. 

Wow… but how much could I pick this phone up for in Cape Town, South Africa? 
And is it for sale for under R1,000?
Well, to cut a long story short…. I was browsing for music in Musica the other day and happened to be browsing their cell phones pamphlet and saw the VF 845 for sale on prepaid for R849 all included – no catches.  I rubbed my eyes a couple of times and then asked the assistant for more info.  She confirmed that it was an Android phone but was out of stock but she would find one – she called her other branches and found a couple of options.  By this time my son was getting more and more excited!  We landed up going to the Parow Centre branch to buy their last phone - and were warned to take IDs and proof of residence for RICA purposes (we RICA’d our other SIM cards while we were there).  Not sure if it’s network locked (I think the SA networks stopped locking phones a while ago – but even if it is locked… for R849 it’s a great buy).

So, results are:
1 happy son, busy playing Angry Birds as we speak!  WhatsApp is running fine; Google Sky Map is mind blowing  - what an educational tool!
* Now my other, elder son also wants his own phone… so, let’s find another branch with the phone in stock. 
* I’m an UNhappy camper – my young son’s phone can do (much) more than mine (except for BBM!)

Click here for some help from Vodacom specific to this phone and OS 2.1

Comment from Coenie: “You can now get this phone at Clicks stores for as cheap as R798, R999 at Game and Edgars in South Africa, bear in mind the Vodacom store operator told me it is discontinued in South Africa, as I understand the VF 945 being released in the coming months here”
I did a compare of the VF 845 with the VF 945 and the main differences that I could see were: bigger screen size, up to 32GB memory card, 5MP camera with flash, second camera…. so, if you want to wait for its release… but I’m sure it will be over R1,000.

Here are the minimum requirements for WhatsApp (from here:
— Nokia S60 3rd edition, 5th edition or Symbian^3 Operating System
Supported device list:
Symbian^3: N8 · C6 · C7 · E7
S60 5th edition: Nokia 5800 XpressMusic · Nokia 5800 Navigation Edition · Nokia 5530 XpressMusic · Nokia 5230 · Nokia 5233 · Nokia N97 · Nokia N97 mini · Nokia X6 · Nokia C6 · Samsung i8910 Omnia HD · Sony Ericsson Satio · Sony Ericsson Vivaz · Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro · Nokia N8
S60 3rd edition: LG KS10 · LG KT610 · LG KT615 · Nokia 5700 XpressMusic · Nokia 6110 Navigator · Nokia 6120 Classic · Nokia 6121 Classic · Nokia 6124 classic · Nokia 6290 · Nokia E51 · Nokia E63 · Nokia E66 · Nokia E71 · Nokia E90 Communicator · Nokia N76 · Nokia N81 · Nokia N81 8GB · Nokia N82 · Nokia N95 · Nokia N95 8GB · Samsung SGH-G810 · Samsung SGH-i400 · Samsung SGH-i408 · Samsung SGH-i450 · Samsung SGH-i458 · Samsung SGH-i520 · Samsung SGH-i550 · Samsung SGH-i550w · Samsung SGH-i560 · Samsung SGH-i568 · Nokia 5320 XpressMusic · Nokia 5630 XpressMusic · Nokia 5730 XpressMusic · Nokia 6210 Navigator · Nokia 6220 Classic · Nokia 6650 fold · Nokia 6710 Navigator · Nokia 6720 Classic · Nokia 6730 Classic · Nokia 6760 Slide · Nokia 6790 Surge · Nokia C5 · Nokia E52 · Nokia E55 · Nokia E71x · Nokia E72 · Nokia E75 · Nokia E5 · Nokia N78 · Nokia N79 · Nokia N85 · Nokia N86 8MP · Nokia N96 · Samsung GT-i8510 · Samsung GT-I7110 · Samsung SGH-L870
For those uber-geeks out there that want the latest Android OS on it:  There is already a custom ROM project:
Download the original firmware here (just in case): 
1. Go to  
2. Click on "Service Center"
3. On the Service Centre page, under "Download", click on "Software"
You should see a list of file to download.  Near the bottom is the firmware currently on the Vodafone 845.
"V845 V845 V100R001NZLC02B233SP01(New Zealand Vodafone) Host Software 2010-09-19"

See here for more info on WhatsApp: WhatsApp for Nokia Symbian phones is now available

Sunday, 13 March 2011

GoogleDocs for sharing documents

Google Docs is a great way to share your documents and even edit them online at the same time.  Use it to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations online.  Another advantage is that your documents are available online and whenever you need them just hop onto the Internet from any PC and connect to your Google account.
If someone at work shares a document with you using your work email address (, there’s no need to create another account to access those shared documents – just login to your Google account (
then in the “Add an alternate email address to your account” section
add your work or alternate email address email address.
Then “save”… easy as that!

I struggled a bit to figure out how to share a folder in GoogleDocs… but this article solved the problem – turns out you need to share a collection, then each document that you add to the folder will automatically be shared to a group of people.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Roaming using your Blackberry and don’t want to use Data Services from the cell phone network: SOLVED

So, you are travelling/roaming abroad and don’t want to be charged those horrendous fees for data services?  Using my Blackberry 9700 Bold this is what I did to ensure that I used free WiFi connections abroad:
1) Options->WiFi: and connect to your free WiFi service
2) Options->Mobile Network->Data Services: ON
3) Options->Mobile Network->WhileRoaming: OFF
4) Network selection->Automatic
5) In the BB Browser->Options->General Properties->Default Browser->Hotspot Browser

That should do it :)
Now my WhatsApp, BBM, browsing works

Thanks to this post that helped me figure this out:

Of course, you could decide that you want to be mobile and not “tied” to the WiFi in your hotel or office – so you should then purchase a local SIM card and put it into your phone and use the local GSM network.   But remember that with a Blackberry phone - you need to buy a BIS package otherwise your phone cannot access the Internet AT all!

In other words, if you just buy a prepaid SIM card you can't use WhatsApp or Viber or similar - it won't work without a BIS package!  Perhaps you should then take another phone (eg: iPhone or Nokia or Android or whatever other non-BB phone) with you on holiday.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Giveaways of full versions of software for free

My first (and still favorite) giveaway site is where you get what it says: a free giveaway each day – you can download and install a full version of software for free.  So, what’s the catch?  Well, a small one – you need to install and activate on the day of the giveaway, and most giveaways are not for commercial use.  I have heard that people somehow crack the giveawayoftheday installer to keep it for future installations….  I love that site and have been using it for years
The reason for this article is to also list other sites that I have found and also use daily: image image image  (for special offers in South Africa by Groupon) image

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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.