Saturday, November 26, 2011

Marketing Lies told by Banks


"Congratulations, you could qualify for a limit increase ..." Does the bank really think I'm that stupid? They want to lend me money, to increase my debt, and to increase their profit, and I should be congratulated? This is one of the many lies told every day by banks and other financial institutions. And then you wonder why the world economy is in such a mess.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Apple Fanboys Being Mocked

I guess the Apple reality distortion field won't last forever. I don't know if I'll get a smartphone, but if I do, it won't be an Apple product. Not after they way they treated me in the past.

A Clever History of the English Language

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

6,418 Days of Freedom. Now it's gone in a puff of smoke

On 27th April 1994, South Africa elected the first democratic government in our history. 6418 days later, that same government, despite the outspoken opposition of newspapers, trade union groups, civil society organisations and prominent individuals, a bunch of criminals (also known as MPs) passed legislation that effectively wipes out the ability of journalists to tell the truth about politicians and public figures.
We wouldn't have learnt about the corrupt dealings of people like Mac Maharaj and his boss' "financial advisor", Shabir Shaik, and his boss, Jacob Zuma. The dubious lifestyle of Julius "fork and knife" Malema would not have been so easy to expose, and the Travelgate affair, where these criminals (also known as MPs) defrauded the taxpayer out of airline tickets and other travel perks.
Why did they pass the bill? For reasons of "State Security" (puleez!). The same reason put Nelson Mandela behind bars for decades, and had thousands of ANC members tortured and killed under Apartheid. But now that members of the ANC are busy plundering the country of its wealth for their own pockets, their lip service to press freedom has been exposed, as they try to hide their nepotism, cronyism and corruption.
What the idiots in government forget is that there is not such thing as a secret on the internet. So it will be interesting to see how they plan to prosecute WikiLeaks or other international whistleblower sites when information does get out. And the suppression of it in the local media won't last long when they can point to other sources out of the reach of our tinpot dictatorship.
What worries me is that under this "cloak of secrecy" the civil servants and low-level party officials will believe they can get away with more corruption than before. Only the "bigger fish" will be exposed while all of the "smaller fish" will gobble up the resources of the country, and the poor will continue to suffer.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mac Maharaj ducking and diving

This is the calibre of our presidential spokesman, who "stands accused of receiving millions in bribes from French weapons maker Thales" according to the front page of the Sunday Times, and who wants to prevent newspapers from publishing the "lies" he is supposed to have made in an official enquiry, presumably under oath. This interview comes ahead of the imminent passage through parliament of a bill designed to curb press freedom. Welcome to Azania, the banana republic, and Mac looks like the chief banana at this point.
Update: Tuesday 22, from EWN:
Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj on Tuesday said he firmly believes that a society without a free media will not be able to have rational debates.
He addressed the National Press Club in Pretoria amid claims that he received bribes during the arms deal.
Maharaj had said it would be illegal for the Mail&Guardian newspaper to publish documents relating to a Section 28 inquiry held in 2001.
He said his position was very clear.
“I have maintained the view that I have been not involved in any bribery, corruption and in the awarding of those two tenders and that’s my consistent position,” he said.
Stop paying lip service to media freedom when your party is about to reintroduced Apartheid's media restrictions, Mac! And don't think we haven't noticed the diversionary tactics, either.
Update Monday 28th: According to this article in the Daily Maverick:
In its original 2007 article, City Press reported that Maharaj and his wife had told the Scorpions, among other details, that they had no offshore bank accounts in Switzerland; and had received no money from Schabir Shaik, or his companies. However, this flies in the face of investigative work by City Press, as well as the Sunday Times and the M&G, showing that money was paid from French weapons manufacturer Thompson (now Thales) into Zarina Maharaj's Swiss bank account, via none other than Shaik.
Maharaj, meanwhile, speaking to the National Press Club on Tuesday, said: “I have maintained the view that I have not been involved in any bribery, corruption, and in the awarding of those two tenders. That's my consistent position. It doesn't change.” The tenders refer to the R2.5 billion N3 toll road tender; and the R265 million credit-card driver's licence tender, both of which were awarded when Maharaj was the minister of transport. A company owned by Shaik was part of the consortium that won the former tender, while Thales benefited from the latter.
Throughout the last ten days, Maharaj has consistently refused to answer the question of whether he lied to the Scorpions. It's probably advisable that he doesn't comment on this unless or until he is forced to – lying to a Section 28 inquiry is a criminal offence, and he could face 15 years in prison.
It all becomes a lot clearer: he's blustering to cover his arse, and he should be fired for bringing the Presidency into disrepute, along with his boss.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

FishWisePro gets a search facility


I have been working on the development of the FishWisePro web site for some time. I only get to work on it one day a week, with plenty of breaks when the owner goes on underwater photographic expeditions. He has published several GB of his fish pictures.
The web site is mostly data, with around 800MB of fish data, and a lot of pictures. The problem until now has been locating the data of interest to a visitor. It has been relatively easy to browse the data, although quite inefficient. In the past fortnight I have been able to add a "Quick Search" facility that makes it simple to run a search on the data. I'm quite proud of it.
Hopefully this will make the site a lot more usable, and will encourage visitors to return again for more information. Until now we have been relying on Google search results, but it seems to get bogged down in the data and its results are not good.
FishWisePro is a comprehensive, fully relational fish database of more than 99,200 scientific species name combinations and just over 34,000 fish pictures. It has been specifically developed for Academics, Students, Marine Biologists, Authors, Ichthyologists and all other serious users interested in Fish Taxonomy. I would be interested in hearing your feedback, impressions, and design suggestions. Please bear in mind we are trying to keep the site design simple and functional.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Audiobook Publishing Lunacy - Averted

Every now and then the monumental stupidity of the publishing industry (and its lawyers) gets under my skin. Take the latest example: Christopher Paolini's book "Inheritance", the final part of the Inheritance cycle (originally a trilogy).
The final book has taken some time to come out, and my wife and I were eagerly awaiting the audio book release today. It may be released in the USA, and I can buy it on the Kindle, but not in audiobook form. Idiots!
So now the race is on: do I find it on the file file sharing networks before the sluggards in the audiobook publishing industry decide to change their minds and take my money? Watch this space. If I get an "illegal" copy before I can buy it legitimately, why should I bother when the "legal" copy becomes available? After all, the publishing industry is booming, just like the rest of the economy.
Update 6.30pm: I found the epub version of the book on both BitTorrent and eMule. So much for that. The audio books shouldn't be much longer.

Update Wed: The publishers won! I have to pay double, but at least I can listen to the books. I'm glad I was wrong ;-)

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