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Call for donations to raise money for the Good Hope SPCA

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This year I’ll be running my 11th Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon to raise money for the Goodhope SPCA. Please share and follow the link below and more importantly, please donate generously to the cause ! It’s all online, secure and super easy.

Thanks guys, all those animals will appreciate any help you can provide.

A journey back to the land of Windows

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It had been just over two years since I had had the (dis)pleasure of booting a Microsoft operating system. Two weeks ago I decided to see what all the fuss was about with Windows 7 and at the same time take a look at Parallels 5 Desktop for Mac. I hadn’t used Parallel’s since version 3 and I’d heard good things about it as well. Two birds with one stone.

And while I was at it, I figured I’d give Office 2010 and Visio 2010 a go as well. Certain sites that I make regular use of were developed by folks that haven’t heard of things like standards and W3C so I often find myself having to log onto a terminal server just to access information or open documents.

After downloading all the relevant installation files and obtaining all the appropriate license keys, I was ready to go.

The Parallel’s installation went off without a hitch and was super quick. Pretty unobtrusive and what I expected.

ParallelsDesktop5forMac.jpeg

I fired up Parallel’s for the first time and clicked on the button to install a new OS. I pointed it at my Windows 7 image and clicked next. It recognised it as a Windows 7 image and pretty much did everything else on it’s own. I gave the OS access to only one of my CPU cores and 2048GB of RAM. I also chose not to have any integration between Mac OS X and Windows as I would be uninstalling before the trial expired.

I couldn’t believe how quick the Windows 7 install was. I run the VM on an external LaCie 7200rpm disk connected with firewire 800, but even so, the installation was nothing like what I was used to with XP (I never installed or used Vista, so I have no idea what that installation process was like). I logged in for the first time, it did some stuff and was raring to go. First thing I did was take a snapshot, just in case I ended installing something that blatted my VM or I decided I wanted to go back to a clean install.

I played around with IE and some of the other apps that come bundled with Windows 7 and was very happy with the performance inside my VM. Considering that I gave it access to a fair amount of resources I was very happy that it wasn’t bringing my system to it’s knees.

Next I installed Office 2010 Beta and Visio 2010. Also went off without a hitch, but did require a fair amount of downloading of additional components. Not the end of the world. After the installation I took another snapshot. Again, just in case I wanted to get back to a near clean install. I opened up a few Word and Excel documents, a few diagrams in Visio and set up Outlook to connect to our Exchange server, again all without any issues. One thing I did find rather annoying was that every time one of the applications encountered some new feature it would need to install an add on from the Interweb. I suppose some of this will go away once the product is out of beta.

I had now completed installing everything I wanted to try out and so far so good. The apps all seemed pretty light and very very responsive in my VM. The combination of Parallel’s 5 and Windows 7 was leagues ahead of where I was some two years ago with Parallel’s 3 and XP. In fact, if Parallel’s runs a special anytime soon or gives me a big discount on upgrading from 3 to 5 I may actually consider leaving it installed for the odd occasion I needed to access a Terminal server. The prospect of keeping it patched and anti-virused and anti-malwared really doesn’t excite me, but I can always just revert to a snapshot if something bad happens.

I’m not really sure what all the fuss around Windows 7 is. It looks OK, but there isn’t really anything that jumps out at me as a killer feature. I guess it’s not XP or Vista and is apparently stable as a primary operating system. Maybe I’m just used to that with Mac OS X and FreeBSD ?

As an aside I’ve been playing with VMWare 3 as well, albeit not with Windows 7, but I really think that Parallel’s have taken it to the next level.

I’ll post any new revelations here as I come across them.

Vodacom wants to rob you

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Whilst making coffee at the office this morning I was informed that Vodacom have finally enabled the Visual Voicemail feature for the iPhone on their network. This feature has been available on the handset since the launch of the original iPhone 2G some 3 years ago.

I always understood that the feature wouldn’t be available on the Vodacom network as they would have to build some kind of additional functionality into their existing voicemail platform. This didn’t really bother me and I made peace with it years ago.

After a little digging it appears that it is relatively simple to enable VVM.

To activate: SMS “VVM ON” to 123.
To deactivate: SMS “VVM OFF” to 123.

The only catch is that Vodacom will rob you of R10 every month to have this feature enabled.

It’s not like they had to build a whole new voicemail platform to enable this service and I’m pretty sure that part of monthly subscription covers the voicemail service I currently don’t enjoy.

I’ll keep an eye on things over the next few weeks, but I’d love to hear some comment from someone at Vodacom to justify how they can charge for a service that was free from day 1 on AT&T’s network.

Thanks to http://www.marcforrest.com/2010/02/17/vodacom-launches-visual-voicemail-for-iphone/

Watch classic movies for free

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I thought this was pretty awesome when I stumbled upon it a few days ago. What the site has done is provide a smart interface to a library of classic movies that no longer have any copyright issues and are available on Google Video. You can search for specific titles or browse through a genre. The old school movie posters are a laugh and they feature a different set of movies based on the time of year or season.

Classic Cinema Online

Classic Cinema Online


So whether you’re in the mood for some classic animation or some really bad horror films, Classic Cinema Online has hundreds of films in dozens of categories and it’s all FREE !

The first thing that will put a grin on your face is the quality of the video – yes we really did used to watch stuff like that. Some of the acting is almost enough to put every movie in the comedy category.

Check it out.

International Domain Names Are Coming in 2010

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This really is quite big. For the first time people other than those that use the 26 letter english alphabet will be able to use a character set they are used to on a keyboard they are used to.

DNS servers all over the world will need to be patched or updated to handle all of these characters, so I suspect there will be some migration and adoption pain, but in the end it will be good for everyone.

The short video from the Mashable article below lays it out pretty well.

The face of the Internet is about to change, and its potential impact on international Internet use cannot be understated.

Earlier today, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which governs domains, registrations, Internet Protocol addresses, and many other aspects of the net, voted to approve a fast-track process for implementing non-Latin domain names by early to mid 2010.

This means that by next year, you could be seeing domains in Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, and dozens of other non-Latin languages.

The new domains, which ICANN terms ‘Internationalized Domain Names’ or IDNs, has been something the organization has discussed for several years, but now IDNs have been placed on a fast track process, beginning November 16th. It will involve around 100 new, international characters on top of the traditional 26-character English alphabet.

ICANN even takes the time to explain the impact of IDNs with a 7:10 video. In it, people from nations across (along with ICANN President Rod Beckstrom) the world discuss how IDNs will help them use localized keyboards and local email addresses. It’s a bit silly, but it really nails the key point: it’s time to expand domains to the native languages of over half the world. The video is below:


(Via Mashable!.)

Top 5 (almost) local tech podcasts

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OK, so only two out of the five are local.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been searching for the best local and international technology podcasts. I’m tired of listening to the same fools drone on on our local radio stations. Cape Talk isn’t bad and some of the presenters are pretty sharp, but they hardly cover technology at all. Their 3 minute “Hard Drive” slot every afternoon is pretty useless, but I understand that it may appeal to their less tech savvy listeners.

For my trip into work and home each day I wanted to find a few podcasts that could keep me up to date with the stuff I care about. At first I tried to limit my selection to local content only, but there simply isn’t much out there. Unless I’m missing it.

My search has by no stretch of the imagination been extensive, but the list below is what I’ve settled on for the time being. If anyone has any suggestions on other podcasts I should listen to, especially if they are local, please leave comments below.

zatechshow.png 1 – ZA Tech Show. Currently my favorite weekly podcast.It’s local and covers a wide range of technology and technology news. Hosted by Simon Dingle and a few other local journalists and tech junkies it provides a good laugh and even some great insights. As long as there is beer… Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.
buzz-out-loud.png 2 – Buzz Out Loud. CNET’s Buzz out load has been around for a long time. They have done more than 1000 episodes to date and as long as you can surive the American accents you’ll love the show. Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.
engadget.jpg 3 – The Engadget Show. They have recently relaunched this podcast in a new live format. The first one featured a long interview with Steve Ballmer on the day of the Windows 7 launch. I hope they keep the quality of the show and caliber of the guests this high. Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.
majornelson.png 4 – Major Nelson Radio. A little niche, but since I do all my gaming on the platform I find it very informative. He runs a good show and often has exciting guests. He actually works for Microsoft, so although he doesn’t provide you with the inside track, he usually has has facts straight. Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.
macabout.png 5 – mac:about. The only other local show my list. They have only done one episode so far, so it remains to be seen how long the show will last and how it progresses and matures. It’s Apple centric, but that’s a good thing. Subscribe here. Or here with the direct iTunes link.

O’Reilly continues awesomeness

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I have a number of O’Reilly books myself and I must admit, when their spines are all nicely lined up, they look awesome on my bookshelf.

They are now running a promotion that allows you to download an electronic version of any of the paper books that you own for only $4.99 each.

I will almost always want to own the paper version of these books, but having a portable version that is searchable makes access to the information I need extremely convenient.

Promotion ends at the end of October, so hurry along.

cover-scalaAs one of the programmers here at Unclutterer, I spend quite a bit of time educating myself on new technologies. My bookshelf is pretty crowded, mostly with books that I’ve already read, and now only need to refer to once in awhile.

I’ve been looking for a good way to unclutter my programming bookshelf, so I was excited to find out that O’Reilly, one of the foremost publishers of technology books, is currently running a promotion to allow owners of paper versions of their books to buy ebook versions at a substantial discount of only $4.99 per book.

While many people prefer paper versions of books for readability, ebook versions have a few notable advantages that make them particularly useful when it comes to technology books.

  • Tech books are typically big and take up a lot of shelf space. Ebook versions are quite a bit smaller, and take up approximately zero shelf space.
  • Code samples cannot be cut and pasted from paper books. Some books include an additional DVD, or link to a website, that contains sample code. This is unnecessary with an ebook, and can save a lot of time when trying to learn new concepts quickly.
  • Ebook text can be searched much more easily than paper text. Especially across multiple books at once.
  • Ebooks make it possible to take your bookshelf with you on the road, and nobody wants to be anchored to an office just because that’s where his books are.

To take advantage of this offer:

  • Visit oreilly.com and log in to your account, or create a new one.
  • Register each book you own using its 13 digit ISBN number.
  • Find one of your registered books in the O’Reilly store and add the ebook version to your shopping cart.
  • Enter the discount code 499UP during checkout.

The promotion runs through the month of October.

(Via Unclutterer.)

Windows 7 looks expensive and confusing

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I just finished reading an article on MyBroadband where they have listed local pricing for the different Windows 7 options from a variety of brick and mortar and e-tailers.

We will rob you.

We will rob you.

Firstly, I had no idea that there were so many options to choose from, again. Did M$ learn nothing with Vista ? There is no way the man in the street is going to have any idea what the difference between the different options are. You’ll realise that you are getting more when you buy the “Ultimate” version, but without doing some research you’ll be nicely in the dark.

Secondly if you want all the bells and whistles you will be forking out between R2337.00 (e-tailers) and R3199.95 (from Incredible Connection) for the Ultimate version. That’s a lot of money. I mean, you can pretty much buy a PC for R3000, probably not one that can run Windows 7 though…

I’m sure lots of people are going to buy Windows 7, but I think most of them just want to upgrade from their 8 year old XP installations.

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