Monday, October 30, 2006
Similar in concept to pre-paid cellular airtime, Pick 'n Pay eazySurf is inexpensive, immediate pre-paid internet access without the normal 12 or 24 month contracts that internet service providers demand. Independent research has indicated that within the cellular market over 90 percent of subscribers are pre-paid customers. Developed exclusively for Pick 'n Pay by a South African company, iSurf.TV, this pre-paid service offers innovative, low-cost, high-value internet access which promises to empower South Africa by bringing the information age to a far broader market.
Aimed at low-income earners, infrequent 'netizens' or the entry level internet market, Pick 'n Pay eazySurf is offered in either Budget and Super surftime options in the form of vouchers which can either be purchased at point of sale tills within Pick 'n Pay nationwide, or, alternatively on the eazySurf website.
Access to a home computer is not a pre-requisite. With a Net.Box 3.6 consol, which is also available throughout Pick 'n Pay retails outlets, and a dial-up telephone line, access to the Internet is immediate, affordable and simple to use. The Net.Box contains an IR keyboard and remote, a printer port, built-in answering and fax machine and is compatible with all television sets. Costs of telephone calls or connections are not included for these dial-up accounts.
The General Manager for Corporate Marketing at Pick 'n Pay, Ms Tessa Chamberlain heralded this innovation. "Pick 'n Pay has a heritage of being passionate about the rights of its customers, and eazySurf will signify a revolution of the Internet industry in South Africa," she said. "eazySurf provides instant internet accesswhich makes it more accessible, and, most importantly, it requires no fixed contract".
"It is essential that South African entrepreneurs, students and our youth in general are empowered by being exposed to the information age; eazySurf is the means by which a broader base can now have access to the Internet," said Ms Chamberlain.
The Budget surftime option that eazySurf offers enables users to surf daily between 00h00 and 19h00, while the Super surftime option provides full internet access 24 hours a day. Both options include 4 email addresses and vouchers are valid for a month. A national Customer Support desk is administered by iSURF.TV for online support and registration queries.
"It really is a revolution of cyber proportions," said Ms Chamberlain.
D-Link has introduced its flip-style Wi-Fi Phone that combines the cost-savings of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology with 802.11 wireless connectivity in a compact Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based package. The sleek portable D-Link Wi-Fi Phone, together with an Internet VoIP phone service, provides both consumers and businesses a stylish way to dramatically reduce local and long distance telephone charges compared to standard telephone service. VoIP phone calls can be made where there is a Wi-Fi network or open hot spot to the Internet — without the use of a PC.
"Our phone is truly a first of its kind in both design and functionality, and the potential cost savings to be realized from this type of device are astounding. This product will act as a flagship for D-Link in this key emerging market, complimenting our popular wireless networking and VoIP telephony solutions" comments Tobie van Schalkwyk, Country Manager for D-Link South Africa.
Weighing only 3.74 ounces in a compact clamshell design, the phones feature large, bright color displays for easy viewing of numbers as they are dialed, storage of up to 100 address book entries, caller ID and polyphonic ring tones with seven-step volume control, as well as support for redial, mute, hold and text messaging. Users can expect about three hours of talk time and 70 hours of standby time on a single charge of the Li-Ion, 900mAh battery. An external power adapter and mini-USB cable are included.
The D-Link Wi-Fi Phone has the same look and feel of a flip-style cell phone, but is based on 802.11 wireless and VoIP technology. To make and receive calls, users need only an 802.11b, g or n wireless network with high-speed Internet access.
In addition, the phone, which uses a Broadcom chipset for low-power consumption and a small footprint, offers echo cancellation, packet delay compensation and lost packet recovery, resulting in similar or improved voice quality over traditional phones. The D-Link Wi-Fi Phone uses the popular SIP technology and is ready to be used with many VoIP service plans.
For accessing secure wireless networks, the Wi-Fi Phone supports WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption.
D-Link's new Wi-Fi Phone is compliant with Public SIP Telephone Network (PsipTN), the telephony technology expected to be available in the third quarter this year. Users will be able to make and receive free calls within the network via a firmware upgrade and a one-year subscription. PsipTN also allows users to receive calls from regular phones for free.
Price and Availability
The DPH-540 and DPH-541 is available through Comztek, Mustek and Pinnacle Micro at a suggested retail price of R3,499.00
The unit has a limited lifetime Warranty and 24/7 Technical Support including firmware updates.
Monday, October 23, 2006
The California-based company launched its mini music player five years ago on October 23, 2001 and has never looked back as sales of the trendy gadget have continued to rise and rise.
Apple shipped over eight million iPods during its fiscal fourth quarter, marking a 35 percent increase in such shipments over the year-ago quarter, according to the company's latest earnings statement released last Wednesday.
And the sleek little music player has already become the "first cultural icon of the 21st Century," according to Michael Bull, a media lecturer at Britain's University of Sussex, who is researching the social influence of the iPod.
Apple has shored up the diminutive music player's popularity and ease of use by making it compatible with Windows PCs, and in 2003 the company launched its iTunes online music store enabling iPod devotees to download their favourite hits.
However, industry competition is mounting, and software giant Microsoft announced in September that its Zune MP3 music player will hit US stores on November 14 as it seeks to challenge iPod's grip on the lucrative market.
By email@example.com (Cory Doctorow)
Google has re-lauched Writely, the online word-processor they recently bought, in public beta. Writely does
Word does, for free -- and saves its output as PDFs and even RSS feeds
(subscribe to a word-processor doc!). It features collaborative editing
-- multiple editors on the same doc at once -- and can be used as the
editor for writing your blog, saving out to a post instead of a file on
your machine. This is a great-looking program for people who have
always-on Internet, and for so long as you don't worry about the NSA
demanding that Google turn over its Writely files as part of some
"security" procedure. Also: if I were a Google China user, I'd have
some doubts about this, given that Google has shown that when it comes
to China, keeping the government happy is more important than
delivering the best product it can.
(via Vertical Hold)
By firstname.lastname@example.org (Cory Doctorow)Cory Doctorow: Tom sez, "I've just released my new book under a CC license, this is the first book by a UK author and a major European publisher to be released in this fashion (as far as we know). It is simultaneous with the book being sold in major bookstores." The book is Blood, Sweat and Tea: real-life stories from the London Ambulance Service, based on Tom's blog about his experiences as a London ambulance tech. Link (Thanks, Tom!)
Update: Charlie Stross points out:
Actually, the first that I know of in the UK was Net.wars by Wendy Grossman -- admittedly published by NYU Press, but she's based in London and it went out online in, um, 98 or 99 or thereabouts.
And ACCELERANDO was released under CC with the kind permission of Orbit back in 2005.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I HAVE to let you know that HP are releasing 30 new products on Thursday evening. I think that the special for the printer is ending on Sunday. Strangley, two days after the release of 30 new HP products and 1 day before these 30 products make it onto the shelves of your local HP store.
I am not having a full go at HP here, dispite the way it looks, but I am sending you a little warning when it comes to buying new IT stuff. ALWAYS be careful. It's not what you see.
No Xbox live, is a simple example.
Friday, October 13, 2006
I am going to check my Google......... (Add word here) Google Mail, Google TV, Google.......
Don't get me wrong, as long as they keep making good stuff, then I am all for Google. I still like Windows, so mabye I should keep quiet.
Google have released Google Music Trends. Using thier Google Chat to keep track of what music you and I play, they have created a world wide chart. Nicole Fox, eat your heart out, this is the Real Chart of what people in the world enjoy and listen to. The info is updated daily from 30 something countries. This chart isn't what radio feel people should be listening to, this is what people are choosing themselves.
Follow the link to see what you are missing out on.
Now all I need is for iTunes to sort themselves out and I will have a PROPER music collection.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
We all love Buzz!™ and the fastest finger on the button challenge - but quizzes are not for everyone. So welcome to the first kids Buzz! title as Buzz!, courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, ventures deep into the Jungle with Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party packed with a cast of cheeky monkeys, windy gorillas and baseball playing elephants.
Available exclusively on PlayStation®2 from November 06, Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party is the ideal experience for kids of all ages to dive in to. With your easy-to-use Buzzer in hand go head-to-head against up to three of your mates or family to see if you have the skills you need to build a banana empire and be crowned King of the Jungle.
Choose your monkey character with care – each has a distinctly naughty personality – and then take part in one of up to 40 wild and wacky mini games deep in the jungle.
But the secret to success is not just having a laugh, as you find out if you have what it takes to demolish a Totem pole, beat out the craziest bongo beat with your Orang-utan drum instructor or base jump – clutching an anvil! And if you survive all that – not to mention being pelted with coconuts and eaten by Lions - then it’s ‘farty’ time as you sit back in the jungle Jacuzzi and celebrate with your friends and the windy gorilla – just watch out for the smelly bubbles!!
Play is as simple as peeling a banana and the laughs as cheesy as a centipedes shoes. Just choose your character, select the right colour of monkey, enter your name and you are ready for tropical action.
- Multi-player mode: For two to four players the aim is to earn bananas by competing in individual games and tracking your progress on the monkey leader board.
Select short, medium, long or custom tournament and don’t forget that in the world of slap-stick cartoon humour sometimes the loser has the best laugh! Whatever happens don’t forget to taunt your friends as they suffer the embarrassment of defeat.
- Single-player mode: A simplified version of multiplayer, practice those skills and earn a score high enough to get you into the Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party Hall of Fame…
With loads of localistion: English French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Russian, Greek and Polish! There’s no excuse not to monkey around with Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party!!!
Vodacom opens up a world of affordable voice communication to business and leisure travellers by providing its customers with access to 16 Vodafone participating networks in 16 countries. Once Vodafone Passport has been activated, customers travelling overseas will be charged only a once-off connection fee when receiving a call. The once-off connection fee plus their home tariff call rate will apply when making calls to South Africa and within the visited country. Calls made to other countries will be charged at the once-off connection fee plus their home tariff international call rate.
Chris Ross, Managing Executive: Products & Services, Vodacom South Africa, explains the key benefits and convenience of Vodafone Passport: “While international call rates can sometimes be high and unpredictable, Vodafone Passport enables users to exercise personal or business budget control, without being inhibited from making and receiving calls internationally.
“One of the clear benefits to business travelers is the affordability and transparency of the call charges when using Vodafone Passport. Customers are able to estimate call charges more closely, manage expenses and carry on with business as usual, making it an essential business tool for remaining productive and accessible, as well as keeping in touch with colleagues and customers,” says Ross.
“For leisure travellers Vodafone Passport is an affordable and convenient way of staying in touch with family and friends and sharing experiences while holidaying – with no sudden surprises of high cellphone bills at the end of their holiday, as customers are familiar with their local call rates and can easily calculate what each call will cost.
“Through its alliance with Vodafone, Vodacom opens the door to the biggest mobile community in the world, and Contract customers travelling abroad can now experience the benefit of affordable, hassle free communication without borders”, he concludes.
For more information on Vodafone Passport please visit www.vodacom.co.za
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
So. A bunch of American soldiers have been rolling home from exotic Middle Eastern war playgrounds with limbs missing due to battle injuries.
Which has prompted DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the US to make some funding available for some pretty far-reaching research. Their first handout is US$7.6 million to be shared by two teams of scientists spread across several of America's elite universities. They can spend this money in the first year of research. More follows if they meet their milestones.
To help humans to grow back their own limbs.
War has its uses, huh? Here's to the US getting it right, and then spreading the love to the rest of the world, dispensing new limbs at all branches of KFC and MacDonald's.
I wonder if they'll be able to generate a new brain for Mr Bush?
Read the Wired News story here: 'Grow Your Own Limbs' by Kristen Philipkoski
Thursday, October 05, 2006
The XBox 360 has now been on sale in South Africa for just short of a week. How many of those 1st buyers have tried and failed to log onto their Xbox Live Silver account that they got for free with thier purchase? Microsoft say that there is no South African option because of the lack of bandwidth. I say that I am willing to try. At LEAST let me use the VoIp to talk to people. At least let me purchase upgrades and small fun games. At least give me the option. Who are you to tell me what to do?
Wait, as soon as they find a fault in the XBox 360, and you know they will, Bill and the gang will give us access very quickly. How else are we supposed to install the security patches?
After a long time, I have recently brushed off the dust on my iPod and downloaded the new iTunes software that is actually quite neat. TV, Movies, Radio, Podcasts, all are there. How many of these great things can I download? JUST THE PODCASTS. Apple say that the record labels in South Africa haven't given them the go-ahead to allow us to download songs. I think that someone needs to do thier damn job! I WANT to download songs. I don't want to go to a CD shop and buy a CD. I don't want to go to Musica and purchase THIER songs. I want my songs for my player when I want it!
Who are you tell me differently?
I think that if Apple are willing to sent me a glorified CD player, the least they can do is make sure that I can get the Tuesday Free Song that I see every week, but NOOOOO, I am not important enough to get even that.
So what do we do? We go the illegal route. Not me, but other people. We download our songs from file-sharing programmes, we copy and paste, we rip and share. At this moment in time, South African musicians are planning a concert to raise awareness of pirated music and movies. What is the bet that the CD that gets released to coincide with the concert will be online in a couple days, if not hours.
Another way of getting around the "No South Africa" problem, is to give your mate's UK or US address, then all is great. My question is why? WHY? MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!!
How? I have no idea. Maybe you do?
This November, Sony's PS3, with a price tag from $499 to $599, will challenge Microsoft's XBox 360 and Nintendo's Wii in a battle royale for holiday dollars when it hits stores in the United States and Japan.
The PS3 uses a powerful new processor called the Cell Broadband Engine to run highly realistic games like "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07," "Metal Gear Solid 4" and "Full Auto 2." It also has a 20GB or 60GB hard drive (depending on the model) and can connect to the Internet either wirelessly, or with an Ethernet hookup so gamers can download new programs and take each other on.
The PS3's chip is the same one IBM is using in a supercomputer it's building for the Department of Energy. That computer is expected to reach speeds of one petaflop, or 1,000 trillion calculations per second. (Full story)
"It has so much horsepower and, of course, when you're playing a game all that horsepower will be used for the game. But there are a lot of times during the day when somebody's not playing the game," said Sony's Richard Marks. "It seemed like a good idea to be able to use that horsepower for something else that is, in this case, good for mankind."
Sony worked with Stanford University's Folding@home project to harness the PS3's technology to help study how proteins are formed in the human body and how they sometimes form incorrectly.
Improperly formed proteins are linked to a number of diseases, including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gherig's disease, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as mad-cow disease.
"What you can imagine is that if a machine was assembled incorrectly, it can do damaging things," said Vijay Pande, who runs the Stanford project. "You can imagine a car that's screwed up and someone tries to drive it, then maybe it crashes into things and causing problems."
Proteins start out in the body as long strings of amino acids and have to assemble themselves into complex shapes -- a process scientists call folding -- before they can do anything. The challenge for scientists is that folding is difficult to observe because proteins are so small and the process is so fast -- about 10 one-millionths of a second.
Scientists are using computer simulations instead, but that has its own limitations. It takes about a day for a computer to simulate a nanosecond (one-billionth of a second) so it would take about 30 years for that computer to complete one simulation.
Folding@home uses a network of about 200,000 personal computers to simulate how proteins assemble themselves. Dividing the complicated calculations into smaller packets enables the computers to do jobs that would strain the most powerful supercomputers.
"These calculations that we have to do are very challenging. Even if we were given all of the supercomputer resources in the country we still would not be able to do the types of things that we can do with folding@home," said Vijay Pande, who runs the Stanford project.
A network of PS3s would run even faster. Pande said that a network of 10,000 PlayStations would increase speeds by a factor of five, and 100,000 would be 50 times faster than what they can do today.
"It turns two years into one month, and that's a huge thing for us," he said. "It's more than us just being impatient, there are calculations that we don't run right now because any calculation that would take more than two or three years, we don't even start it."
To participate, users will just download a program into the PS3's hard drive. Then they just need to leave the machine on when they're not playing. The Folding@home team will divide their complex calculations into manageable chunks and then send it to the participating machines. The program and data will take up 10 to 20 megabytes - or about the size of a handful of MP3 files, Pande said.
When the PS3 is done processing its chunk it will send the data back.
Makers say the program won't run when someone is using the PS3, because it might bog down the game.
Sony says it plans to sell about 2 million PS3s in the United States and Japan before the end of the year, and 6 million worldwide by next March.
Since all of those units are pretty much the same, developers did not have to make compromises that would slow the Folding@home program down.
"You don't really know what you're getting on any given PC, so you have to write the program in a general way so that it will run on weaker machines and stronger systems, Marks said. "They have to write programs sort of to the lowest common denominator, whereas on our system it can be finely tuned to completely leverage what we have."
The PS3 also has a graphic chip that lets users watch the protein as it folds and from different angles, said Klaus Hofrichter, another Sony developer.
"These interfaces are very nice looking, very scientific in a certain way. ... You can use the controller and navigate around," Hofrichter said.
That might make people more likely to download and run the program, Pande said.
All PS3s connect to the Internet, and Sony plans to make it easy for gamers to get the program when they go online, Marks said.
"What we want is for people just to have to make the decision to contribute electricity and benefit mankind," Marks said.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
What about people like you and me? People who enjoy killing a few aliens before supper or driving exotic cars in exotic locations around the world before bed. Is this the answer? Let me explain a few things before I answer that.
Once upon a time, people played cards and dice and Monopoly to pass the time. It was generally a public gathering and social environment. People laughed, drank and had a good time around the kitchen table or around a fire. Adults, children, grandparents, everyone would have a good time. Then came the TV and things changed. People no longer talked to each other but shouted at the stupid TV programmes. That was before SA Survivor, so you know the programmes weren’t that bad.
One clever person saw the TV and thought it was good but could be better, so they created games that could work on the TV. Simple games, like the Monopoly of it’s time. Games where you hit a square ball from one side of the screen to the other. These games worked and they were good. People started talking to each other again. Ok, there was some shouting and swearing but people still seemed to have a good time.
Then along some lonely old fart who predicted that processor’s would double their speed every two years. Mr Moore just had to proven correct by game creators and newer and faster machines came out and the TV game nearly died. Gamers could save their games on the new PC’s. Graphics were colour and the games were cong out thick and fast. You could jump, shoot and duck in 2D all you liked. In fact, you could even go 3D and fly airoplanes and helicopters and nothing the gaming consoles could do could get people away from their desktops.
That was until SEGA popped up on the scene with Sonic the Hedgehog and people flocked back to their TVs. Gaming was fast, interactive and more than one person could play at the same time. Sony saw the gap and created a thing called a Playstation. Plug it in and it worked. No driver issues, no mouse and keyboard and and and needed. Just a good TV and you could do everything the little PC could but with everyone in the house having a go too. The TV screen is big and loud.
But let’s jump to today. The PS2 pushed the Sega option out of the window and only a little Japanese upstart, Nintendo, kept up the pressure. Along came Mr William Gates. Will, or Bill, had more money that you and I can ever imagine. Bill decided to create a new gaming platform and the Xbox was born. It wasn’t very good but it was another option for those who were bored with the PS2 and liked MACS. Why? IT COSTS SO MUCH.
The new Xbox 360 is great! It is a Microsoft product, so be careful of that. In South Africa you get NO Xbox live! Let me say that again, the biggest selling feature of the gaming system is not available in South Africa at the moment. They blame Telkom for not giving us enough bandwidth. I say, who are you to tell me what I can and can’t do?
Games are numerous and the titles are varied. Graphics are better and you can rip your CD’s to the Xbox hardrive. You WILL have to upgrade that in the future and you know Microsoft know that, so they have made it easy to change. You can’t use your old one as a slave, so you throw it away.
Sound is great, if you have surround. But would you spend R4000 on a machine if you don’t have surround sound? Me thinks not.
So let me answer the question I raised 700 words ago. Should you spend R4000 on a new Xbox 360? If you have it and you really really want one, then yes. Otherwise, buy eight new PS2 games. They are going no where for a while and, although the launch of the PS3 is still far away, you KNOW that your PS2 games will still work on the new box. You may as well throw all of your PS2 stuff away. For example, my really cool steering wheel I bought for GT4 is useless on an Xbox 360.
Your choice, boet, your choice.
Rudi Jansen, CEO of MWEB ISP, says small and medium sized businesses, as well as home users are often baffled by the number of broadband options available to them. “As the Internet experts and having the variety of broadband options available, MWEB can give customers completely objective advice on the best solution for their needs as we won’t be pushing one kind of broadband at the expense of another. All the broadband options have different benefits and are suited to different applications and usage patterns, so we will assess these before advising a customer on the best solution.”
Thami Mtshali, CEO of iBurst, commented, “We’re confident that our partnership with MWEB will see the benefits of high speed wireless broadband rolled out to even more business and home users. According to a recent poll, iBurst remains the most affordable wireless broadband with the best after sales service.”
Jansen added that more and more users need Internet access on the move, while small businesses often can’t afford to wait for ADSL to be installed. “Wireless broadband such as iBurst is ideal for users who don’t want or need a Telkom line but who need high-speed Internet access. iBurst currently covers South Africa’s major metropolitan areas and the capitals of all nine provinces plus dozens of smaller towns and cities across the country. Access is via either a desk-top or laptop modem and because there is no waiting for a line to be installed, users can be up and running within 72 hours of ordering the service.”
MWEB’s launch offer for iBurst, available for two months from 1 October 2006 includes two free months when signing a 12, 24 or 36 month contract on any of the iBurst packages. The packages start at R279 per month for a 36-month contract including a 210 megabyte data cap and a laptop modem.
MWEB customers will also receive the following unique benefits:
- 1 Gig MWEB mailbox
- 24 hour technical support
- 300 free Wi-Fi minutes per month (provided that the user is in an MWEB joint-venture hotspot)
- Monitoring and alerts (related to data caps and limits)
- Single point of contact for all technical, hardware, Internet and billing queries
- Exclusive MWEB content, tools and services
Monday, October 02, 2006
Bush was expected to act quickly after Congress approved the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act making it illegal for financial institutions and credit card companies to process payments to settle Internet bets. It also created stiff penalties for online wagers.
Billions of dollars are wagered online each year and the United States is considered the biggest market.
"It is extraordinary how many American families have been touched by large losses from Internet gambling," said US Representative Jim Leach, the bill's main sponsor in the House, in a statement after its passage early Saturday.
The bill's chief Senate sponsor was conservative Republican Jon Kyl, who, like Leach, has said he believed Internet gambling was a moral threat. He has called online betting as the Internet version of crack cocaine.
"Gambling can be highly addictive, especially when it's done over an unregulated environment such as the Internet" he said this year.
"If Congress had not acted, gamblers would soon be able to place bets not just from home computers, but from their cell phones while they drive home from work or their Blackberries as they wait in line at the movies," Leach said.
The US Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board will jointly develop implementing rules for the new law, while financial institutions have nine months to incorporate its provision.
Leach cited research which showed that young people who tend to spend hours of leisure time on the Internet, are particularly vulnerable.
A 2005 survey by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center found that 26 percent of male college students gamble in online card games at least once a month, while nearly 10 percent of all college students gambled online at some point last year.
"Never has it been so easy to lose so much money so quickly at such a young age. The casino is in effect brought to the home, office and college dorm.
"Children may play without verification, and betting with a credit card can undercut a player's perception of the value of cash, which too easily leads to bankruptcy and crime," Leach said.
Experts said the vast majority of bettors are placing wagers on poker.
"Everyone loses if this industry continues its remarkable growth trends," Leach said.
Republicans tucked the measure into a bill aimed at enhancing port security, which passed early Saturday.