Sunday, August 29, 2010

Typekit Turns One

Typekit, the guys who supply online fonts, celebrated their first birthday by announcing a deal with Adobe to supply some of their fonts. Brilliant! Now you can get some old favourites like Garamond.
Not all of them are available on the Personal plan, but in the spirit of the current South African political climate, I settled on Minion. The other improvement is that they can now do true italics with Internet Explorer, which makes this blog more readable to those who still use IE.
Update 19-Sept: a reader rudely complained about my use of ClearType because he is still using XP and switched it off. I have changed my default font to Palatino, with Minion as a fallback, as an experiment. No doubt he'll complain about that too.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Memories of the World Cup

Nik Rabinowitz - South African Comedian - talks about the USA vs England match.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Buying Books the "New" Way

I agree with the EFF on this one: buying digital books and audio books shouldn't be any different from paper books. And then there is the question of how copyright law has been extended from 18 years to ... forever

Monday, August 23, 2010

Striking while the iron isn't hot

Every year at this time the trade unions have a go at screwing up the country even more than the politicians do. It's a sad reality that during Apartheid, when the government hated the people and banned political parties, the trade unions were a political force that could be used against the state. Hence the ANC-SACP-Cosatu alliance. Unfortunately in the last 16 years little has changed ...
The government may have changed skin colour, but they still hate the people. This is evident in the way they treat road users, teachers, health workers, police, and the poor. Ministers and their tenderpreneur cronies are systematically robbing the country of its wealth.
The unions, too, hate the poor. People are dying in hospitals while they are on strike. Babies in maternity wards are being deliberately neglected. Students preparing for exams are being abandoned by teachers who are too downtrodden to care. But the worst part is the unions have a deliberate and systematic policy of doing everything they can to negotiate away any form of incentive based on merit. "An injury to one is an injury to all" has become the rationale for ensuring that workers, no matter now lazy or incompetent, get equal pay and keep their jobs, no matter what. The result is that competent, committed workers are not rewarded for their efforts, but are held back and become demoralized by their useless colleagues. As a result, the quality of work gets lower, which hardly justifies the pay increases. And the country suffers.
Politicians hate the poor. They are happy to rip off government budgets, abuse spending allowances, and make self-important pronouncements. But when it comes to actual work, all Parliament does is sit. And talk, and talk, and talk. All talk and no action, because action is risky: it may show off how much they don't have a clue. As a result, the poor continue to suffer.
Government bureaucrats hate the poor even more than the politicians. They follow the politicians leads by misusing their expense accounts, and lining the pockets of their comrades in the ruling party. They turn a blind eye to overcharging and lack of service delivery. So the poor suffer while they line their pockets and enjoy the good life.
The ANC hates the poor the most: hundreds of thousands have died of AIDS because of their dithering. Even more have died on the roads because they lack the will to cut down on speeding (BM's and Mercs go pretty fast, especially when escorted by flashing blue lights) or keep buses and taxis roadworthy. We have one of the highest road death tolls every day on the roads, and yet nothing changes, except that there are more taxis and more lawless drivers on the roads. And more poor people die or are injured.
Now the ANC is in the business of killing babies and sick people because they dither about wage negotiations, dither about improving hospitals, and instead focus on how much money a pharmacist can charge his customers.
Municipalities charged with the responsibility of improving services to their inhabitants are corrupt, inefficient, and cannot even keep their existing infrastructure running. That applies too to Eskom, the railways and other parastatals. It's so easy to cut maintenance budgets to fund those talk shops and wasteful conferences, not to mention power lunches and FIFA tickets. But the roads still get potholes, traffic lights need fixing, and water is leaking out of pipes.
The proverbial iron isn't hot, because all the money has been spent on soccer stadiums and the FIFA World Cup, and entertainment budgets, but the government won't admit that. But the workers were promised that the World Cup would be good for South Africa and "money would flow in". So now the strikers want some of that nonexistent money, and the unions are exploiting that to further their own agendas. Instead of forming a task force with government to find the money for salaries for teachers, doctors, nurses and policemen, they chose the path of confrontation. After all, it's only the poor who will suffer from their lack of leadership. Who cares about the poor?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Carbonite gets a new look

No sooner had the ink dried on my Carbonite review, than they updated their software. I guess that's the speed of the internet for you. The new version has a much better look, and is more useful. What I like the most is that there is now a progress bar that shows the current file it is backing up, and how far it has progressed.
There are other useful things, like the ability to freeze your backup while you are restoring files to the hard drive. I learnt of the update because there was an automatic update message on my machine. If you haven't seen the message, just go to the Carbonite web site, log in to your account, and choose the "Reinstall" button, and run through the instructions on screen. Simple.

Monday, August 16, 2010

If only this really happened

This is one really cool video. If only politicians really did this.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Cell C PR Lies Exposed

I always thought Trevor Noah was a funny guy. And his clip (above) about mobile operator Cell C is right on the mark. But there is a problem with this YouTube clip: it's a PR setup that was planned months ago.
The domain name was registered by the Cell C ad agency on Wednesday 23/06/2010 18:27:09 SAST, even though the site was only announced in the media today. And the clip on YouTube was uploaded a week ago by "BobbyT" on Wednesday July 28th, just in time for a full page ad in last week's Sunday Times where the CEO of Cell C refers to it. The ad refers to Trevor's Facebook page, which doesn't have the video.
Update: Trevor's YouTube handle is "southafrica4you". It seems that all critical comments on the YouTube page are being systematically removed. Pity they don't remove the positive responses. It starts looking a bit obvious.
This week the full page ads in the Sunday Times announce how Trevor has suddenly been appointed "CEO" of Cell C in response to his complaint about Cell C, and disgruntled customers can go to the "new" web site. This is bogus since the "response" site was planned a month before the video appeared on YouTube. A "bizarre turn of events" indeed. To make matters worse, the "complaints" section of the site wasn't working. See below.
So even if you wanted to complain, you can't, because the site is broken. It's just a load of PR double-speak, written by the spin-doctors at an ad agency. How much more bogus can you get? They clearly haven't read the ClueTrain Manifesto, which explains why consumers just don't buy that kind of insincerity and spin any more.
Update: Their "4Gs" network is actually only a 3G network. HSPA+ is not advanced enough to be classified as 4G. Most consumers have no idea of the difference.
And then there's the small matter of the new Cell C logo. Last time I checked it wasn't possible to trademark the © symbol, since it is a common typographical symbol that has been around for years. Yet the CELL©™ ads clearly show a large © with a ridiculous ™ next to it. What are these fools trying to do? Make idiots of themselves? Which CIPRO bureaucrat did they have to bribe to get that one through, or do they just put the ™ sign wherever they feel like it?
So while the sentiment "the power is in your hands" may be a noble one, the power to complain about Cell C doesn't belong to them or their ad agency. It still belongs to the consumer, and Cell C manAGEment is still in their ivory tower getting it wrong. And the blogosphere is NOT impressed:

I tried calling the Cell C "Legal Department" but was put through to the wrong department and then stayed on hold for 10 minutes. So much for "give us a call".
Update: The reason I was trying to contact the legal department was to find out when the trademarks were registered, and the registration number. IF they have been registered (which I doubt), then South Africa will become the first country in the world to trademark a typographical symbol. How ironic that it would be the Copyright symbol! Oh, the shame and embarassment at such obvious incompetence! Only in Africa.

Update: It seems that their logo isn't particularly original either:

Update 18th August: Andy Rice and Jenny Crwys-Williams chatted to Andre Lombaard of Ogilvy, the agency responsible for the TellTrevor campaign. It seems Ogilvy are so used to lying they will tacitly admit it.

Click this player to listen to the show or download the mp3 extract from their show.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Ex-Spammer Apologises

I was surprised and delighted to receive a phone call from the owner of the former "MLD Marketing" and "Data Inc" companies. He apologised for the spam sent, and is in the process of setting up a legitimate, opt-in email marketing and competition business.
This is wonderful news, and I'm glad he has listened to the complaints he received. He has promised to send me more details, so I will update this post once they arrive.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Carbonite Backup Review

When you make backups, you should always have three copies: (1) the original, (2) one local backup and (3) one remote backup. A local copy is there for convenience and safety, and for when you upgrade your computer. Typically this would be stored on a CD or DVD, or an external hard drive that can be stored in a safe place.
The remote copy is for disasters like your building burning down or being flooded, or all your computer equipment being stolen. The remote copy is often ignored or neglected, because it's a hassle. Not any more, provided you have enough bandwidth (i.e. uncapped) and a reasonable speed internet connection. Read the rest of my Carbonite review here.
In doing research for this review I discovered some customers who thought that Carbonite could replace their external HDD backup, and/or could be used to migrate data from a PC to a Mac. I don't think so.
Note: While I am writing these reviews I am also running some new benchmarks for Windows 7, 64-bit and 32-bit. I haven't forgotten or abandoned the benchmarks for