Friday, December 30, 2005

Virtual Surf Report: Setting Achievable Goals

Seeing as it's nearly New Year, and we could all use a refresher on how to really get to grips with our New Year's resolutions, I put together a little resource list on setting effective goals.

I'll be updating my Squidoo lens on the topic regularly, so bookmark Goal Setting With Roy Blumenthal, and make it a goal to check it out occasionally.

Here are some of the resources I've come across and find helpful:
How to Achieve Your New Years Resolutions - Facts and Figures
Want to keep your resolutions this year? Visit The GoalsGuy for a collection of helpful tips, strategies, inspiration, encouragement, motivation and information to help you reach your personal goals and have the best year of your life. New Year's Resolution Tips
Tips for Making Good New Year's Resolutions There is a right way and a wrong way to make a New Year's resolution. Here are a few expert tips to see that your resolution actually makes sense.

How to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions -
How to Keep Your New Year's ResolutionsThe new year has arrived, and you have already drawn up your resolutions. Now, how to stick to your plan?
Much more where these came from on my Goal Setting Squidoo.

My own goals for this coming year? I'll be getting into my Creativity Seminars in a big way. I'll be developing my practice as an Hawaiian ka huna masseur. I'll be doing more voice-over work. And I'll be looking at doing interesting corporate and industrial theatre using Augusto Boal's techniques.

Have a happy 2006. And may it be filled with learning, loving, and joy.

For a full podcast of this post, please click on

This post first appeared on Coffee-Shop Schmuck.

Top electronics show offers cars, sex, software

A dozen industries will cram into the annual consumer electronics jamboree in Las Vegas next week to clamor for attention in the equally crowded digital media market.

With entertainment being cut loose from the living room as never before, the challenge is to offer the products and software that consumers will want as the next badge of cool -- and convenience.

This year will feature a cornucopia of gadgets, ranging from advances in satellite car radios to luminescent fibers that promise to turn clothing into wearable lamps and camera phones that can take nighttime pictures without flashbulbs.

It's not a question of who wins the war for dominance so much as how much territory different industries can grab in the emerging digital landscape that will be on display at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, analysts said.

With more than 2,500 exhibitors and 130,000 industry participants expected to take part, companies will show off their latest electronic wizardry in hopes of gaining a bigger chunk of a market that racks up $122 billion in annual sales.

Read more here......

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Virtual Surf Report -- Career Change for Beginners and Experts

Today we're looking at two resources for people thinking of embarking on a new career, or people about to start their journey into the job world.

Dick Richards is the author of a major new book called IS YOUR GENIUS AT WORK? 4 Key Questions To Ask Before Your Next Career Move. The core of his approach is that every individual has a particular, specific, unique purpose here on earth, and that once we've understood what this purpose is, we're free to flow through life more easily, and more productively. He calls this unique purpose our 'genius'.

This book takes you through a series of friendly exercises to help reveal your genius to you.

The name of my genius is 'Guiding the Flow'. It's something that accurately describes me. It encircles my good points AND my bad. For instance, when I find my own flow being blocked by someone, I get frustrated. On the plus side, when I enter a room, I immediately start working out ways to nudge things into a better flow.

Dick has two websites for you to visit to help you uncover the name of your own genius. His blog is called Come Gather Round, and it's a space where he updates his thinking on genius. He also runs a discussion forum aimed specifically at getting people to chat freely about their genius-discovery process. It's called the Genius Workshop Google Group, and it's well worth spending time there.

I recommend that you try an exercise to bring you some enlightenment.

The book is a must-have. It's not yet available on South African shelves, so you'll need to grab a copy from Amazon. I'm fortunate to know Dick via email, and he sent me an advance copy. (I created a weekend workshop based on an earlier book of his called Setting Your Genius Free.)


Richard Nelson Bolles changed my life. Twice. Each time, the change came about because of my working through his book, WHAT COLOR IS YOUR PARACHUTE? The book changed my life the first time while I was languishing away in an engineering degree at Wits, hating every second of engineering (while loving varsity life), and not knowing what to do about the situation. I came across the book, and worked out that I was a creative being, and that I needed to honour that. So I followed my love, and have been a fulltime creator ever since.

The book has two major sections. The first is a set of guided exercises that help you find out what kind of job you'd LIKE to do. You complete a 'flower diagram', which gives you an overview of your job skills, wants, likes, needs. Once you have a flower diagram, you pretty much know yourself better.

The second section is how to find an ACTUAL JOB that fulfills your requirements. His idea is that you CAN find a job tailor-made for you.

Visit his website -- The Job Hunter's Bible -- to find a wealth of resources on job hunting, as well as a few exercises to get you started.

Both of these books are must-haves. And both authors sites are must-visits.

Good luck with your search for a new you!

For a full podcast of this item, please visit

This post first appeared on Coffee-Shop Schmuck.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Virtual Surf Report: Shell Geostar -- Plan Your Route Home

So you've been on holiday, and you want to come home safely. Or you haven't been on holiday and you want to find a different route to work.

In comes a journey planning tool courtesy of Shell that'll help keep peace in the car:

There are several sections to the tool, but the three most important ones are:
  • The route planner
  • Where to stay
  • Where to eat
I'm particularly interested in the route planner. So I typed in two suburbs I know, one in Cape Town, one in Auckland Park. And the system spat out wonderfully detailed directions, which are explicit and easy to follow.

Better still is the mapping system. It breaks each section of the route into bite-sized pieces, leaving nothing up to chance. I'm pretty certain that only the MOST geographically challenged people MIGHT get confused. Here's a tip: on a map, the top of the picture is north.

It's as simple as that.

The 'Where to Eat' and 'Where to Stay' sections are almost as useful as the route planner. I know Rosebank quite well, and found several good recommendations. But I also found an Indian restaurant I didn't even know existed.

Drive home safely, and print out your maps, and eliminate end-of-holiday-in-the-car-rage.

Listen to a full podcast of this item at

This post originally appeared on Coffee-Shop Schmuck.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Virtual Surf Report: Everyone's an Expert on SOMETHING... Squidoo

Seth Godin, marketing genius deluxe, has, along with his team, created a new brainchild. It's a website called Squidoo, and its mission in life is to share knowledge and expertise.

At its most basic level, Squidoo offers surfers 'lenses' into various areas of expertise.

For instance, I'm an expert on creativity, and have been delivering creativity seminars for almost a decade now. So I've created my own Squidoo lens on the topic: Creativity According to Roy Blumenthal.

People go to the site, search for lenses using tag words, and up comes a list of relevant items. People are able to vote on the lenses they find, and these votes push particularly good lenses closer to the top of the list.

The more a 'lensmaster' updates his or her lens, and the more relevant and interesting those updates are, the more likely that lens is to get a better lens ranking.

The best thing about the site is that it's REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY EASY to make your own lens. It's crammed with tools, and an amazing help forum to get you started.

Here's where it gets interesting though. When the site launches officially in the near future, all lensmasters will earn revenue from the site. They're currently working out a decent 'share and share alike' algorithm. When that's done, I'll start making money off my knowledge base. The more knowledge I share, the more money I'll earn.

But it doesn't end there. Squidoo has dedicated 5% of its revenues to charity. And I get to choose where my share of that goes to. More than that, I can also choose to give a percentage of MY earnings to charity. So I've opted to give 10% of my earnings away to worthy causes selected by the Squidoo team.

This is a site that you simply MUST get involved in. YOU have some expertise. Share it! It's really easy, and all you need to do is know something.

For a full podcast of this piece, please visit

This post first appeared on Coffee-Shop Schmuck.

8 Cool Firefox Plugins You Never Knew Existed

  1. Stopwatch - This simple little extension gives you a neat stopwatch. That’s it. A stopwatch. It’s simple,easy, and it works.
  2. Search Status - This is one of my favorite extensions. It sits in at the bottom of Firefox and gives you access to a lot of pertinent information about the website you’re on. Both google and alexa pagerank status is included by default. If you right click on the "q" you can see backward links, whois info, and other information.
  3. Select Search - This is an improvement on the default right click and search option that comes default with Firefox. With this plugin you can right click and choose to search a TON of different sites including yahoo, google, google images, ebay, amazon, etc. You get the picture. It’s neat and it works.
  4. Aardvark - This is an extension designed specifically for web developers. When you right click on a page and "start aardvark" it separates divs, tables, and other elements with a red border. This allows you to visually see the different elements of the web page and put something visual to the code you’re working with.
  5. Tinyurl Creator - Ever have a website with an insanely long and convoluted url that you wanted to easily turn into a tiny url? Well, that’s what I thought. With a simple right click, this extension contacts the tinyurl website and copies the new url into your clipboard. Neat, huh?
  6. Secure Password Generator - With the billions and billions of hackers out there right now trying to get your super secret hot chick getting info, it’s probably best to create and keep secure passwords. This plugin does it.
  7. img tag - Yes hotlinking is stealing, but this extension makes it so easy it’s fun. It’s not stealing if it’s your website and your images, so let’s have at it. Right click on any image click "make image tag" and it’ll make an html image tag and copy it to your clipboard for you.
  8. Advanced History Manager - This is probably one of the more popular extensions I’ve included on this list. The Advanced History Manager does a much better job than the default one that comes with Firefox. It’s cool. Trust me.

Note from Roy: I've copied this post from the Crazy 8 Opinions site, word for word, but without the links. You'll need to go to the article itself for those. They exist because of their advertising links, as far as I can tell. So to copy the links here would have been terribly rude of me. I have no idea who wrote the list. But there are certainly some useful things on it.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Virtual Surf Report: How to Be a Blogger

Monday, 26 December 2005

If you're reading this blog, chances are you know what a blog IS. And if you don't already HAVE your own blog, you might want to get one, but you might feel a little inhibited.

The easiest thing for you to do is head for one of the three free blogging websites below, and open a free account.

Now that you've gotten yourself a blog, you're ready to start expressing yourself.

The best thing about these three free services is that you only need occasional access to the internet to be a blogger. You literally don't need anything else.

You don't need a dial-up account. You don't need any special software to format html. You don't even need to know what html IS.

You can do everything from within the browser.

Both Blogger and Xanga give you free photo storage. While LiveJournal doesn't let you save your photos, you can easily use the free Flickr or Yahoo! Photos servers to do the same thing.

The trick with blogging is simply to do it. If you can find the motivation to create one entry per week, you'll soon find yourself sharing your insights with the world, and creating a community around you.

Happy blogging!

You can listen to a podcast of today's snippet by heading to

This post first appeared on Coffee-Shop Schmuck.

Friday, December 23, 2005


Vodacom and MTN today announced that their customers are now able to make video calls to one another, across the Vodacom and MTN networks. The current video calling charge applicable to each network will apply for a limited period.

We are pleased that after extensive negotiations between the two cellphone companies one of the key benefits of 3G technology can be shared amongst the greater cellular base in South Africa. It is particularly pleasing that video calling will be available between the respective networks in time for the festive season.

Video calling allows customers to see one another when talking to each other, and until yesterday this service was limited to friends and family on the same network.

Virtual Surf Report: How to Be a Virtual Artist

Friday, 23 December 2005

Ever wondered about exercising your doodling skills? Here are some sites where you can be an artist without any fear of embarassment.

First take a look at some of the efforts of professional and amateur artists taking a stab at self-portraiture. Artists are invited to take a photo of themselves, and then make an artwork based on that photo. The resulting artworks are on Flickr, and the collection is called, 'Eye:Hand'. (If you dig through the pictures, you'll find a self portrait by me.)

Now that you're inspired, do some doodling of your own at Kaleidoscope Painter. This is a site that allows you to occupy yourself making animated kaleidoscope pictures. Unfortunately, the site doesn't allow you to save your artworks. It's more of a zen, 'live in the moment' kinda tool.

Which leads us to a potent online sketchpad called Websketch. This is the kind of interactivity I like. You have a blank canvas and a whole bunch of different painting and drawing tools. You start your sketch, choose different colours, erase things, do whatever you like. At a certain point, your muddle of nonsense might start to look like something. At that point, hit 'save', and you've got a permanet record of your artwork. But there's more... press the 'replay' button, and the site recreates your masterpiece stroke by stroke, as you did it!

Now that you've tasted blood, and liberated your inner artist, you might want to try your hand at making some money from your artistry. Head straight to Cafe Press, where you can use your artworks to create t-shirts, mugs, cards, clocks, and even fridge magnets. It costs you nothing to setup the items. Instead, you open yourself an online store where you can sell the fruits of your labour! Get all you friends, family, and fans to go and buy your stuff!

Go get 'em, Leonardo!

Listen to a full podcast of this item at

This post originally appeared on Coffee-Shop Schmuck.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Virtual Surf Report: Serendipitous Surfing with Stumble-Upon

Thursday, 22 December 2005

It's time to let serendipity guide the way you surf the web. Visit Stumble-Upon, and expand your horizons. It's a social search engine plugin that lets you find interesting websites according to categories that you set up. Each time you get to a site, you give it a thumbs up, or a thumbs down. If you don't like a site, it'll remember this, and will stop sending you sites of a similar kind.

The more sites you vote for, the more likely it is that you'll receive sites you'll enjoy.

The great thing is that you can vote for ANY site, not just the ones it serves up for you.

And it keeps a complete history of all of your stumbles, allowing you to find that site you loved but can't recall properly.

You can also tag sites and search for specific tags.

Very powerful. Very joyous. And totally free. A huge thumbs up to Stumble-Upon from me.

Hear a podcast of today's radio broadcast at

This post originally appeared on Coffee-Shop Schmuck.

Virtual Surf Report: The Animated Genius of Han Hoogerbrugge at

Wednesday, 21 December 2005

We're visiting the insanely compelling, disturbing, delicious, interactive art world of animation genius Han Hoogerbrugge today. His site is, and you really need to budget several hours and multiple visits to this wonderland. In particular, head for his NEUROTICA series, and spend a vast amount of time delighting yourself with it.

The pieces are essentially self-portraits in which the viewer manipulates the artist.

He's made all of the music and all of the art. And you've GOT to visit this site.

Hear a podcast of today's radio broadcast at

This post originally appeared on Coffee-Shop Schmuck.

Virtual Surf Report: Overheard in New York

Today’s site is Overheard In New York, dedicated to reporting overheard snippets of conversations from the great city. There are some absolute lulus on this site, but it’s not to be missed. Here’s an example of two people on one of New York’s trains.

GIRL: We aren’t underground, are we?

GUY: Look over there; there’s the sun.

Listen to a full podcast of the insert at

This post originally appeared on Coffee-Shop Schmuck.

Virtual Surf Report: and Google Maps

I'm back on the radio with a 'Virtual Surf Report' on SAfm 104--107 at around 12:30pm weekdays

Yup. Jon Gericke called me up recently to say, 'Hey, Roy, wanna be on the radio again?'

So I said, 'Yeah.'

And he said, 'Okay. I'm on the midday slot for the next few weeks, during the holiday period, and I'd love you to do a "virtual surf report", a sort of "how to go on holiday without leaving the comfort of your armchair" thing. You up for it?'

So I said, 'Yeah.'

So Friday was my first slot, and I talked about Google Maps. I found myself in San Francisco, hunting down sushi bars.

Today (Monday) I'm talking about the most awesome music site I've discovered called Magnatune. The dude running it has the best deal with his artists. They get 50% of all money their music earns. But better than this... the person buying the music gets to choose how much they pay. Killer stuff. I've already bought 3 albums from the site, and I will be buying many more.

You can listen to SAfm via live audio streaming. Just go to the SAfm website and click on the 'listen live' link. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work with Firefox, so crank it up in Internet Explorer.

This post originally appeared on Coffee-Shop Schmuck.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Google is slowly taking over

Reuters from San Fransisco is reporting that Google has created a special version of its Gmail e-mail service that provides mobile phone subscribers with quick access to their e-mail, the company said on Friday.

Details on the mobile e-mail service, which currently is only available to U.S. cellphone users here.

The service works on the subset of more advanced mobile phones that offer an Internet browser. Users can view attached photos and documents from their phone, and reply-by-call to people whose phone number is stored in their Gmail account.

Gmail messages are automatically synchronized between their mobile phones and computer accounts, regardless of whether Gmail is accessed from Gmail Mobile or the Web.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Vodacom Helps the Blind or Visually Impaired

Vodacom has announced the availability of three new Vodacom Speaking Phones. The Vodacom Speaking Phone affords people who are blind or visually impaired full access to cellular communication services, including data services such as text messaging, network information such as signal strength and cellphone information such as battery power status.

Vodacom is continuing to work closely and in conjunction with blind customers, as well as organisations such as the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB). “These parties have played an invaluable role in guiding Vodacom to understand the communication requirements of customers who are blind or visually impaired,” says Mthobi Tyamzashe, Vodacom Executive Director, Corporate Affairs.

In September 2004, Vodacom was the third cellphone operator in the world, after its UK-based shareholder Vodafone Group, to launch the Speaking Phone to customers. Customers can choose between three new Vodacom Speaking Phones, including the Nokia 6670, the Nokia 3230 and the Nokia 6680.

Most of the inherent features of a cellphone becomes fully accessible to a blind customer, including viewing, creating, and editing contacts, choosing a ringtone, activating and using bluetooth, taking photos and creating and sending SMS and MMS messages to name just a few. With the latest Talks software version (v 2.0) loaded onto the new Speaking Phones, access to the Internet is a new feature and available for the first time.

“Getting to the functions is the key” says 20 year old Jennine, “I’m able to access all the functions on my Speaking Phone and I can do everything my friends can do. With the Nokia 3230 I can take photos, listen to the radio and send messages to my friends, it is so cool!”

“Vodacom continually upgrades products and services to ensure the latest technology and functionality are available to our customers, making sure that Vodacom’s services are accessible to all. Millions of South Africans with disabilities will greatly benefit from access to communication services and this is an important focus for Vodacom,” says Tyamzashe.

In September 2005, Vodacom launched the Vodacom Voice Bill service, which allows full access to billing information with the use of reader software on their PC. “When you are blind or visually impaired, the spoken word becomes increasingly important, which is why we launched the Vodacom Voice Bill to ensure that our cellphone billing information is accessible to customers who are visually impaired,” Tyamzashe says.

For more information about the new Vodacom Speaking Phone models and the Vodacom Voice Bill, customers can contact the Specific Needs call centre by dialing 12580, free from a Vodacom cellphone or 082 12580 from any other phone. Information is also available under the Specific Needs section on Vodacom’s website at

A Video Game Chair That Vibrates in Time to the Action on Screen

Article from the New York Times

As if video games weren't intense enough, the Pyramat PM220 chair transfers the rollicking action from the screen to your stomach.

This rocker is actually a large subwoofer-and-speaker system that vibrates and pulses in time to the on-screen action. The seat, ergonomically designed for hours of gaming, has built-in audio ports and can hook up to any device with audio outputs. It is compatible with almost any device, from the Xbox 360 to the Nintendo DS. The PM220 also has a side connector for piping music from an iPod or other MP3 player through the three internal speakers.

Two of the speakers, rated at eight watts, are embedded in the back of the chair and another, more powerful 28-watt subwoofer is hidden under the seat. The chair connects to the television using an RCA cable, which is included.

The chair, available at Target stores for $99, has a washable seat, folds for easy storage and comes in black with blue piping. You can even connect several chairs together for group play.

Lenovo’s Sweet Cell of Success

So, you think that your cell phone has it all? Fortune Magazine had this a little while ago....

One of China’s bestselling cell phones may also be its best smelling. Lenovo’s new Perfume Phone (which retails for the equivalent of about $210) is a mini sensation in inland cities like Chengdong and Jinan, where Western cosmetics are just starting to catch on with middle-class women. The clamshell phone works its magic by heating a small chamber filled with a few drops of a favorite fragrance, infusing your wrist (or purse or pocket) whenever the phone is turned on. (Metrosexual dudes, beware the phone also has a “feminine secrets” folder.) But don’t hold your breath (or nose) waiting for the Perfume Phone to go global, as it’s already proving a tougher sell with cosmopolitan consumers in Beijing and Shanghai.

That said, the phone’s initial success is a big deal for Lenovo, which is a company on a hot streak. China’s top PC maker completed its acquisition of IBM’s PC business earlier this year and introduced a new ThinkPad laptop to rave reviews this fall. With the success of products like the Perfume Phone, its three-year-old handset division is proving that it can create products innovative enough to compete with giants like Nokia and Samsung. Lenovo is now China’s sixth-largest mobile seller and the fastest growing of the Chinese brands, according to IDC. PC rivals HP and Dell should consider themselves notified that Lenovo will soon be ready to push its PC-cell phone hybrid, the Smartphone, to Chinese consumers who don’t yet have either. If it’s a success, CEO Yang Yuanqing will be entitled to taunt, “Can you smell me now?” — Tells Demos

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Now here is a BRILLIANT idea. It's one of those, "Why didn't I..." type of things.

Clocky is an alarm clock for people who have
trouble getting out of bed. If you hit the snooze
button, Clocky will roll off of the nightstand, fall
to the floor, and run around the room, searching
for a place to hide. Clocky is in production and
will be on the market next year. An early Clocky
prototype is pictured. Our final Clocky design will
be released closer to launch date.

Seventy-five percent of computer users are email addicts

We all know that email has changed the way in which we communicate – but not many of us spare a thought for whether our increasing dependence on email is healthy. New research indicates that 75 percent of email users in Europe, the Middle East and Africa are addicted to email. While this may come as no surprise to many, what is most concerning is that these statistics highlight a truly unhealthy approach to email.

The study – conducted by Symantec – shows that 40 percent of computer users in South Africa are dependant on email, checking mail compulsively and panicking when they cannot gain access and spending an average of 2 hours per day on email. There are a number of factors that have led to this epidemic, as email has become far more than just a communication tool. People all over the world are using email programs to manage their diaries and contacts – effectively, email is now a daily diary as well as a communication tool, so it’s no surprise that users are utterly reliant on it to run their lives.

Mobile email is also impacting on our daily lives, as it means that we are now connected to friends and family 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, this also means that we are connected to the office and clients at all times – creating a ‘down-time’ vacuum in the lives of many busy professionals. According to the survey, 55 percent of South African mobile email users check their mail when they first wake up and gain before they go to bed. A frightening 55 percent check their email while on holiday and 27 percent when socialising. This has serious implications for the average person’s stress levels and ability to lead a balanced and health life.

To deal with this email addiction epidemic and enjoy a healthy life, free of information overload; Symantec advises users to adopt the following approach to dealing with email:

  • Think about when and where you access email
  • Try working offline and don’t feel obliged to respond to every email immediately
  • File mail once you’ve read it and only keep emails that are important to you – there is no need to keep the jokes sent by long-lost high school friends
  • Where possible, speak to people – in a world reliant on email, a conversation is far more precious
  • Help others manage their email, by not sending messages to everyone in your address book

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Internet via TV now a reality in SA

Internet via television is now a reality in South Africa thanks to foremost online publisher, Media24 Digital, which has made two of its best performing web properties namely and, available on the DSTV platform. This South African first forms part of the company’s media meshing strategy that capitalises on the evolution in local media consumption.

Says Russell Hanly, chief executive officer of Media24 Digital about the partnership with DSTV, “The strategy centres on the ways in which the Internet can be used in conjunction with other forms of media for a richer end-user experience. More importantly perhaps, it heralds a shift in how the Internet is viewed by media owners. No longer are print, broadcast and the web vying for audience time, we’re now leveraging the Internet to maximize their engagement across media genres. This partnership with DSTV proves that media integration can and is taking place.”

News24 and FIN24’s breaking and financial news content is updated on DSTV channel 59 and 60 dynamically meaning that DSTV subscribers no longer need to wait for news bulletins or even log-on to the Internet to obtain updates or further information. Users are invited to navigate the extensive content offerings, spanning top stories, deeper news sections, and full text articles, with their DSTV remote controls.

Adds Nic van den Bergh, business manager of the premier financial and business portal FIN24, “Media meshing isn’t a new phenomenon but it’s only recently been named. FIN24 is an excellent example of how to extend the ways in which users can access content for an indelible experience that builds brand loyalty. Through our partnerships with FINWEEK magazine and DSTV, FIN24 is today a truly multimedia offering designed to provide a deeper level of interaction with the end-user.”

News24 and FIN24 usage statistics on DSTV will only be available in March 2006.

HP Compaq tc4200 Tablet PC

The HP Compaq tc4200 Tablet PC is a full-function convertible notebook PC delivering performance and compatibility in an innovative form factor, while simplifying computing needs with the added convenience of handwriting. The light and stylish tablet is designed for mobile professionals needing powerful and highly-mobile computers that also offer enhanced security and reliability. It offers HP’s full portfolio of integrated security options, breadth of integrated wireless choices and unsurpassed common accessories and consistency with the entire thin and light enterprise notebook line.

Versatile mobile office

The HP Compaq tc4200 Tablet PC is the only tablet PC featuring the new Intel 915 chipset/CPU, making it the fastest tablet available on the market. Designed to simplify the on-the-go professional experience, the power-packed, ultra mobile HP Compaq tc4200 incorporates Intel® Centrino™ Mobile Technology to provide wireless connectivity and improved battery performance. The tc4200 The combination of Intel Pentium® M standard voltage processors supporting Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology, HP patented power down NIC technology, Intel Display Power Saving Technology and higher-capacity batteries help provide extended battery life – up to 5 ½ hours. An optional travel battery allows you to stay productive even longer by increasing run time up to 10.5 hours without adding significant weight and also offers the convenience of charging while the tablet is docked. The tc4200 also has enhanced standby time (over 1 week), which enables users to be productive for days on end.

Ease of use

The HP Compaq tc4200 is a full-function PC delivering performance and compatibility in an innovative form factor, while simplifying computing needs with the added convenience of handwriting. The tc4200 offers a 12.1-inch display with wide-viewing angle on sparkle-free protective glass and has a digital eraser pen which enables writing more like an actual pen. Users can convert handwritten notes into typed text with the latest digital ink technology and navigate their desktop using the digital pen as they would use a mouse. The tc4200 enables users to draw, scribble, design and take notes straight onto the screen, just as they would use a pen and paper. An added benefit is that ink usage such as in document edits and drawings can also be viewed by non-tablet PC users.

HP has developed many additional ease of use features including the touchpad scroll zone, which enables users to seamlessly maneuver through documents or web pages, and the ambient light sensor, a feature that adjusts the brightness of the display based on the environment. The optional External MultiBay II allows users to utilize a variety of devices, and a simple soft-touch eject mechanism enables easy, almost effortless one-handed removal of MultiBay II devices. The optional HP Docking Station solutions have been designed to easily attach with the tablet, conveniently manage cables and provide clear indication to users when they have a solid connection.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Everything you Want

Right from the get go, I haven't bought anything from these guys, they haven't paid me anything, yet, and I don't even know who they are, but I thought it might be worth telling you about.

While I was surfing the Information Superhighway, I happened upon These guys seem to have for sale, all of those toys that I have been perving over for the last 6 months or so. PC's, as I have said here and here, and I will say it again, are no longer big black boxes that sit in your study. They have made thier way into our lounges and will make it heppen for you.

From complete bundles to home theatre extenders to simple mouses and keyboards, it seems that these guys know what they are talking about. If you do get something from them, please let me know. A little commision would be good and it would be great to give them a service review.

Friday, December 09, 2005

PS3 still on track

Sony Corp. said it remained on track to roll out its PlayStation 3 game console by spring 2006 despite industry speculation that the scheduled launch could face delays.

The timing of the release of Sony's updated PlayStation console has become a matter of speculation in the $25 billion video game industry and among the studios, hardware makers and other companies looking to handicap the battle over next-generation DVD technology.

A spokesman for Sony, the No. 1 provider of game consoles, said it was still targeting a spring 2006 launch for the PS3, which is key to maintaining its lead in the game console market against Microsoft Corp., which recently launched its competing Xbox 360 console.

Larry Probst, chief executive of the No. 1 video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc., said last week that he believed Sony's console would not be available until fall 2006.

The PS3 also is central to Sony's push of Blu-ray, its next-generation DVD technology, against a rival DVD format known as HD DVD, created by a Toshiba Corp-led group.

Billions of dollars are at stake in the DVD format war as movie studios and electronics makers gear up for a technology change they hope will send consumers back to buy new players and discs that will play high-definition pictures.

Failure to reach a unified front has paved the way for a standards war between Blu-ray and HD DVD, reminiscent of the VHS-Betamax clash decades ago, which confused buyers and turned into an expensive loss for many companies.

Many industry insiders have expected that splashy launch of Sony's PS3 console to give Blu-ray an edge and deliver a huge base of players for Hollywood studios looking to sell compatible DVDs.

A spokeswoman for the Blu-ray consortium said the group was still on track for a spring 2006 launch, indicating other manufacturers would be rolling out Blu-ray players at that time. "When Blu-ray launches next spring, there will be both hardware and content," she said.

Rival HD DVD, which is supported by Microsoft and Toshiba, is planning to roll out hardware and software in the spring 2006. Any delay in the launch of PS3 would be seen as a plus for HD DVD.

"The PS3 was touted as being the first high volume Blu-ray player. You want to have an installed base of players if you put out the movies," said Richard Doherty, analyst with Envisioneering, an industry research firm.

Said Mark Knox, a spokesman for the HD DVD camp: "It's not going to be much of a battle until both sides are actually on the field and we have a sneaking suspicion that that won't be for quite a while."

Haupage PVR 350

Elsewhere on this site, I reviewed the DSTV PVR. For a while now, video cards have been available to insert into your PC and you were able to watch TV on your desktop. All is well and good, but who would actually want to sit in their study and watch TV on their computer?

Now the PC is becoming more than just an office device. The PC has officially moved into the lounge or family room and Haupauge have filled the gap. If you don't want to spend the cash to buy one of Microsoft's expensive Multimedia centres or you don't have a satellite dish, then get on og these cards.

All of the functions can be recreated on your PC. Setting up the card is a little difficult if you don't have a modern TV with all the correct AV inputs, like mine, but being able to timeshift, record and listen to the wireless on the PC is fun.

Using your graphic card, you can play the video on your television or use the outputs from the TV card. The better the card, the faster it works in encoding the video signal. Look for a card that does the encoding on the card and doesn't rely on the PC's processor.

Emergency Phone for Kids

My good friend at IT Web, Sipho, is reporting that there is a new safety phone made just for kids. It looks funky and seems to be a safety device so that parents can always know where thier little terrors are.

Surely though, if your child is responsible for a telephone, then they should be responsible for themselves? I don't quite get giving phones to really young children to find out where they are. Are we really handing out more responsibility to other people? If a child get kidnapped with one of these toys in thier pocket and something bad happens, will the parents sue the cell-phone service provider?


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Christmas Trees go On-line

I personally don't like blogs that send people all over the internet, but this one I just can't resist. Find out everythig you have ever wanted to know about Christmas Trees, what they should look like and where they grow. It is a US site, but one well worth reading.

Unlike most cynics, I actually love Christmas, so expect a few more Christmas goodies being focused on here at The Circle.

Vodacom Brings Mobile TV to its customers

Vodacom, South Africa’s leading cellular network, today announced the launch of the first mobile Television (TV) entertainment service on cellphones, to customers in South Africa. From 1 December 2005, all Vodacom customers who have Vodafone live! 3G cellphones will be able to watch ‘live’ television on these cellphones.

New forms of content are increasingly making their way onto cellphones – music, in particular, is already booming – and the latest buzz is about television. Many industry watchers believe the handset will turn into the third TV screen in our lives, behind the home TV and the Personal Computer.

“Mobile TV is widely seen as an attractive service for customers. Vodacom is proving yet again to be at the forefront of advanced mobile technology, setting the trends for content on cellphones in South Africa,” says Pieter Uys, Vodacom’s Chief Operating Officer.

Says Uys, "This is really an entertainment service with mass appeal. There will be many millions of mobile TV viewers worldwide by 2010. Imagine being able to watch your favourite sports team winning their game, while waiting at a bus stop. That is the reality of mobile TV and this service is available to all our Vodafone live! customers with 3G cell phones.”

“The continuous roll-out of Vodacom’s 3G network and increased stability of this network provides Vodacom customers who wish to watch TV on their cellphones with a vastly enhanced communication experience,” Uys continues.

A great choice of TV channels will be available to Vodafone live! 3G customers, including channels such as, E! Entertainment, Fashion TV, Yebo 1, Speedy, Telly Track, Chilli TV, BBC, and Yebo Millionaires. ‘Mobi-soaps’, the mobile cellphone version of TV soaps will include Conspiracy 24, Love & Hate, and Sunset Hotel. Additional popular TV channels including Sky News, HBO, Fox and two MTV channels will be made available soon.

“With Vodafone live! Vodacom is forging new frontiers in the provision of popular entertainment content services and Vodacom’s customers will be at the forefront of this experience,” concludes Uys.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Top Tips for Safer Online Shopping

What follows is a press release from M-Web......

Mad dashes to the shops before closing time for that last forgotten item, manic searches for parking, nervously navigating through the crowds, tussles with strangers over the last turkey, not too mention queues longer than the Nile. It’s no wonder that shopping’s therapeutic qualities disappear faster than you can say “charge it”, over the festive season. Unless of course, you’re shopping online.

“Shopping online is fast and convenient, making it incredibly easy to shop around for a better deal and you’ll find everything from groceries to discounted flight tickets. Best of all, Internet shops are open 24-hours a day, seven days a week,” says Natalie Thayer, General Manager of MWEB, South Africa’s leading Internet Service Provider.

“To ensure that you reap all the benefits that online shopping affords, it’s best to err on the side of caution,” advises Thayer, who has the following top three tips for a great online shopping experience:

1. Only shop on a secure server.
Make certain that the shopping website is on a secure server before you enter any personal or credit card information online. This ensures that no-one besides the merchant is able to see or use your information.
“You can do this by looking for a picture of an unbroken key or closed lock which is usually located in the bottom right-hand corner of your browser window. Either one indicates that the server is secure. A broken key, no lock or any open lock indicates that others might be able to access your information. Also check to see whether the web address on the page that asks for your credit card information begins with the letters https instead of http. The additional “S” at the end stands for secure,” continues Thayer.

2. Use a credit card.
Use a credit card instead of a debit card when shopping online. Credit
card companies such as Visa and Mastercard protect you against unauthorised
purchases. Remember to keep your passwords safe and not to save them on your
computer in much the same way that you wouldn’t keep your ATM PIN number in your

3. Only buy from trusted merchants.
Only shop at companies that you have heard of or know. If
you’ve not heard of the company before but are keen on their merchandise, why
not check their contact details and give them a call. Also remember to make
certain that they have a return policy on the site too. Finally, look for logos
from privacy enforcement companies such as MWEB Safeshop, Thawte or TRUSTe.
Online shopping malls such as include a host of trusted

“The cyber-world is not that different from the real world and similar rules apply. Trust your instincts and be street wise. If an offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is! And, remember to print records of your purchases. MWEB wishes you happy holidays made that much more enjoyable with an online shopping experience second to none,” concludes Thayer.

Need For Speed, Most Wanted

I was one of the 1st in queue back in the 90's when Need for Speed was released. I love driving games and I enjoy speed.

Yesterday I installed NFS, Most Wanted on my beast of a Pentium 4 with all the bells and whistles and yet I still cannot run the game in high res. mode. What is it with game creators that the new games don't work on new PC's?

As for game play, it's seems to be just another "drive as fast as you can to beat someone and take their car" type game. Since Grand Tourismo 4, there doesn't seem to be another driving game that comes close. I am also a little spoilt that playing on a PS2 seems easier, faster and more fun than on my PC. Using the keyboard to drive a car is not fun at all. I have the chair and all the controls to drive on my PS2 and I am not going out to buy another set for my PC.

There are a couple of interesting additions to NFS, MW that I enjoyed at the get-go. The creators have used real actors instead of computer models. OK, the actors aren't brilliant, but it does look better than one of those characters whose mouth doesn't move correctly.

Game plan fall nicely into the story line of the game but one of the promises of the game box is that you can custom your car to suite your driving. I am raced 3 times and have yet to have the oppertunity to do so. How long must I wait?

OK, I admit, the review is a little premature, I will give it another week and let you know what it's like a little more.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Great expectations stall on the Internet

Despite great expectations, growth in Internet access among the South African public has slowed to a crawl, with the dial-up market experiencing no growth in subscribers for the first time since the industry was launched in 1993.

Solid growth in corporate usage and dramatic uptake of broadband has, however, helped to push the number of South Africans with Internet access up by 5%.

This is the key finding of the latest edition of World Wide Worx’s annual study of the South African Internet access industry.

According to “The Goldstuck Report: Internet Access in South Africa 2005”, 3,6-million South Africans will have access to the Internet at the end of 2005. This means growth in 2005 ticked up slightly from 4% in 2004 to 5% in 2005, giving 1 in every 12 South Africans access to the Internet, marginally up from 1 in 13 at the end of 2003.

“While the arrival of broadband or high-speed Internet access has transformed the Internet access landscape in terms of technology choice, its impact has been felt far more strongly in existing users migrating from dial-up usage than in new users coming online,” says Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx.

Developments that were expected to boost growth in 2004 and 2005, such as the roll-out of competitive access services to businesses by the Second Network Operator (SNO), failed to materialise, and there is still no clarity on when or how the SNO will begin to serve the local Internet market. As stated in by World Wide Worx previously, accelerated growth in Internet usage is heavily dependent on the timely and effective roll-out of the SNO.

Among the most significant findings were:

* The dial-up market has stalled since it passed the one-million mark for the first time in 2002, with rapid growth in Telkom Internet’s service making up for tremendous churn in the customer bases of other dial-up ISPs;

* As broadband access comes down in price and improves in performance, it will reduce the size of the dial-up market, unless more concrete efforts are made to reach disadvantaged communities;

* The leased line market for corporate access remains healthy, bolstered by growth in Virtual Private Networks and corporate-grade Voice over IP. However, while the number of lines continues to grow to support volume of demand from existing users, it is not matched by equivalent growth in new users with access to such lines.

* Schools connectivity has been a damp squib after much was promised by provincial authorities, with delivery delayed by up to three years;

* Most Internet Service Providers are evolving into providers of specialised data and telecommunications services, no longer depending on dial-up subscribers or pure Internet connectivity for their revenue.

“The good news is that impatience with the slow pace of Internet growth and the high cost of connectivity has permeated the upper echelons of government,” says Goldstuck. “As a result, another significant shift in telecommunications policy, equivalent to the deregulation of voice calls over the Internet, could occur in the next two years.”

Monday, December 05, 2005

Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) popularity grows

The long-awaited Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 PC range, which is set to change the way people experience digital entertainment in the home and on the move, will be made available through retailers in time for the Christmas period.

In conjunction with local original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and system builders, Microsoft South Africa is introducing its vision of ‘digital entertainment anywhere’ with the availability of selected new hardware, software and services, to meet the escalating demand by consumers for what is undoubtedly the first choice in the digital entertainment experience.

Jonathan Hatchuel, Windows Client business group manager at Microsoft South Africa, points out that local retailers will be stocking up on Windows XP Media Center Edition PCs for the Christmas season, although the product is already available today.

“With approximately 5 000 copies of Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 already sold in South Africa since its October launch, consumers are already experiencing the benefits of this release of Windows XP in their homes today,” he says.

The first iterations of Media Center Edition PCs will be available to consumers through OEMs such as Emerald, Eurotek, Mecer, Packard Bell and Proline, and sold by retailers countrywide including Digital Planet, Dion, Game, HiFi Corporation and Incredible Connection stores.

Customers may also contact system builders PC Game World and Media Center Services with enquiries pertaining to the availability of Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005,” he adds.

Media Center Edition based PCs – which offer a simple, convenient way to enjoy digital photos, music, recorded and live television, and movies – will be made available in a variety of sleek new form-factors specifically tailored to the living room environment, including portable media devices and digital content services that provide a wide choice of entertainment options in the home.

“However, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 is not only valuable in the lounge. Many consumers are already replacing their home computers with PCs running Media Center Edition 2005 in standard PC cases; they’re not necessarily linking these PCs to their home entertainment systems. The benefits of the new music, digital photo and digital video features alone are winning consumers over to the new version of Windows XP,” he adds.

“Media Center Edition 2005 makes it easy for consumers to centrally store and manage all their music, photos, movies and television shows, while experiencing entertainment from various places throughout the home through the use of Media Center Extenders. Also available are a variety of portable music players offering seamless integration with Windows Media Player, allowing consumers to take their recorded television, music, videos and photos with them wherever they go,” Hatchuel concludes.

Packard Bell
PC Game World
Media Center Services

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A new type of radio that brings podcasting to non-geeks

Worldwide, broadcast radio is being forced to dumb-down due to commercial pressures. Top 40 music radio predominates. Indie music is very difficult to hear. Information-rich content is getting rarer.

Here in South Africa, the only real information channel -- SAfm -- is turning into a talk-radio station.

So what's the answer?

Podcasting, of course. To those with computers, podcasting has been a viable reality for a good year or more. The concept is simple. Download your specific-interest radio show to your own computer, and listen to it whenever you want, on whatever device you choose. You can listen on your computer. Or you can transfer it to your MP3 player.

But this option is something only geeks have been able to embrace.

Until now, that is. Penguin Radio and Solutions Radio have created a standalone internet appliance that receives podcasts. It looks like a radio, and behaves like a radio. And it doesn't need a computer. So old fashioned people can enjoy podcasts as if they were traditional radio shows.

The device is called WEB RADIO. You plug it into an existing network point (so you DO have to be a BIT geekish, I suppose). And then you subscribe to content from, viewing the information on the device's screen.

WEB RADIO retails at US$239, and you can find out more about it at

And the best thing about WEB RADIO? It doesn't matter if you're ten minutes late for your show, cos you decide when you'll press play. Groovy huh?


Friday, December 02, 2005

IOMEGA Iintroduces New Family of Screenplay Multimedia Drives

I was sent this press release from IOMEGA today. When I get the gadgets, I will write a full review so that you know if it works well or not. If you want to get one, drop me a note and let me know what you think about it.

"Iomega Corporation, celebrating 25 years in the data storage business, has announced the release of a new family of Iomega ScreenPlay Multimedia Drives.

The ScreenPlay Multimedia Drives are a group of hard disk drive-based products with built-in multimedia playback capability that make them digital media jukeboxes for photos, songs and video files that can be used with virtually any television or audio-video system in the world.

Bobby Kennedy, Key Account Manager for Iomega in South Africa, says the pocket-sized Screenplay 60GB Multimedia Drive is designed for families and for those on the road that have long struggled with the inconvenience of transporting computer-based digital media such as audio, video and still image files.

"Simply use the fast connection of the ScreenPlay Multimedia Drive to put your latest movies on the hard drive, take your music and films with you when you travel or play them to your home entertainment system," says Kennedy. "The ScreenPlay Multimedia Drive offers new freedom to anyone who wants to enjoy digital video, photo albums, music collections and work files on any TV or A/V receiver - without the need for a computer. Compatible formats include MPEG-1 (AVI, MPG, DAT), MPEG-2 (AVI, VOB), and MPEG-4 (AVI, XviD)."

Kennedy says the Powerful and DivX-compatible ScreenPlay Pro - available in 200GB and 300GB capacities - comes with a design that will suit any living room-, office- or desktop-environment.

Being only slightly larger than the portable ScreenPlay Multimedia drive, the ScreenPlay Pro boasts up to 300GB capacity, additional FireWire connection, high definition video output up to 1920x1080i or 1280x720p, as well as digital sound. Equipped liked this and with many additional playable file formats like ISO, DivX, DivXVOD, OGG Vorbis, WMA, WAV, the small ScreenPlay Pro has all the specs to become the heart of a home entertainment system while not making any compromises on the playback quality of the content.

The Iomega ScreenPlay Multimedia Drives are elegant external hard drives with audio and video outputs, built-in multimedia playback capability, and a set of DVD-style playback buttons. They use on-screen TV navigation to help users select a video, song list, or slide show. Since the ScreenPlay drives come with their own wireless remote control, menus are easy to navigate from across the room.

A USB 2.0 port and an additional FireWire port for the Screenplay Pro enable fast data transfer with a computer at hard-drive speeds; media outputs include NTSC or PAL analogue video (using composite or S-Video connectors) and analogue stereo audio (using RCA connectors). Additional outputs for ScreenPlay Pro: Video: analogue YPbPr video (progressive or interlaced) scalable up to 1920x1080i or 1280x720p, RGB via SCART. Audio: coaxial/SPDIF digital audio (supports compressed Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS pass-through). Supported file system: NTFS, FAT32, HFS+.

"When connected to a computer's USB 2.0 port or FireWire for the ScreenPlay Pro, the ScreenPlay Multimedia Drives operate like normal external hard drives. Music, photos and video files are easy to add; just copy files from the host computer and off you go," says Kennedy.

The ScreenPlay Pro Multimedia Drive (300 GB) holds up to 1,200,000 photos, 450 hours of DVD-quality video, or 5,550 hours of music, consolidating the user's media files in a single device that is easy to use and convenient to carry.

When connected to a TV or A/V system, the ScreenPlay Multimedia Drives become media jukeboxes of the digital age. They play popular video formats directly to TV; can handle JPEG photos with a resolution of up to 8 megapixels, motion JPEG files at 15 or 30 frames per second (digital camera movies), and MP3 digital audio files. Both devices also come with remote control."