Rants Technology

On the Gautrain getting Cellphone Coverage by 2014

Gautrain and the Gauteng transport MEC has announced that their 80km rail system will have end-to-end cellphone coverage by July 2014. TAT TA DADAA!

That’s not an announcement. That’s a fucking apology.

July 2014? Hello, it’s 2012 now. Their lame excuse is one of needing to test that the cellphone systems don’t interfere with the train systems or some kak. Now forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but those same cellphone systems and signals are already active in the air around the train when it is above ground. So are they saying the Gautrain control systems have never been tested in the vicinity of GSM/3G signal but they operate the train anyway? What a honky pile of crap.

The cellphone companies need to wake the fuck up. By not having coverage of the underground portions of the line they are just losing revenue. The Gautrain people need to wake up – it doesn’t take a year and a half to cover 80km of train tracks with cellular signal, most of which is above ground.

South Africa Technology Fail. Embarrassing. They have had this in Hong Kong since 1993.

MTN, CellC, Vodacom, 8ta, stop being so pathetic.

Computing Rants

To the National Consumer Commission RE: MTN unfair data billing

Dear Commissioner,

I believe that MTN are engaging in an unfair business practice with regards to the expiry policy of their Data Bundle products.
Data bundles loaded onto a contract cellular phone currently have a lifetime of 2 months in which they can be used. Once the two month period is complete, any remaining unused data expires.
While in general I do take issue with the entire concept of data that has already been paid for by a consumer being allowed to expire at all, this particular complaint is not in that regard.

I have an issue in the situation where multiple data bundles are active on a cellular phone at the same time, and the later expiring data is used *before* the soonest expiring data.
My situations is as follows:
In order not to overrun my data allowance and pay the ridiculous R2 per Megabyte out-of-bundle rate, somewhere around the 5th of the month I will purchase an add-on bundle.
On about the 20th of the month the billing cycle runs through and an additional contracted 150 Megabytes is added to my data allowance.
I end up with roughly as follows for my data balance:
+/- 772.56 MB expiring on 23/09
150 MB expiring on 21/10.
The problem is MTN then switch back the bundle usage to deduct from the data expiring in October first, rather than continuing to deduct from the data that will expire in September.
This leads to my longest lasting data being used up first, and my shorter lasting data often expiring unused.

This is a deliberate and unfair business practice designed to cheat the consumer of the product they have purchased.
I also believe there is universal merit to resolving this case for all consumers using cellphones in our country.

I hope you will have the time and inclination to take this up with cellphone operators, in particular MTN in my case.

Yours faithfully,

Shaun Dewberry.


Diesel Be Stupid: Fokken Stupid

Is this really that stupid?

On the highway to the office this morning I saw the Diesel “Be Stupid” campaign has reached Joburg’s poster-boards. And damn if it ain’t the most retarded campaign I ever did see. Since when is aligning your brand with stupidity a good thing?

You know the one thing that does really well, Diesel? – It isolates intelligent people from your brand.

I don’t want your sunglasses or your jean pant or anything you sell, because it puts me in a very specific category – the stupid one! Clearly your branding agency has no idea how to distinguish between being stupid and having fun, which is what you’re really trying to say but clearly lack the intelligence to do. But they probably sold it to you as “edgy” and “risque” which makes you stupid for believing them.

That's more like it

We also have no need to promote a culture of stupidity in South Africa right now.

Entertainment Freedom Music Rants Security Technology

MusicDNA Is MusicDOA [Audio Format Foolishness]


It’s sprayed all over the SA IT media: “MusicDNA will rescue the MP3 from oblivion”, “MusicDNA to succeed MP3“, “MusicDNA predicted to rival MP3“, “MusicDNA: New digital file that is son of MP3 unveiled“. And it’s all a crock of shit.

MusicDNA should be MusicDOA.

Why? Well firstly, (Mail and) Guardian, file formats are female, in the same way that LPs are female. They always have been, and always will be – ask any geek. So, if MusicDOA is the son of MP3, then it’s not a welcome part of the music family.

But issues of gender aside, Apple has already invented MusicDNA – they just called it the “iTunes LP“, a much nicer name. Bundling additional digital content and interweb-link-crud along with the MP3 is not the revolution. It’s not even a warning shot over the bow. It’s more like “a tribute to the zip archive”. Yet some musically challenged business-moron (Stefan Kohlmeyer, the chief executive of Bach Technology, which has developed the file) feels that *this*, a rehash of MP3, will save the record companies?

C’mon, guys, it’s already over. The music label is done. Over. Archaic. Closed. Piracy does and always will prevail. Artists will make money from performing. Additional revenue streams will open up here and there, but the giant middle-man of music has been turned away at the gates, left to wonder (and wander) at how they ended up hat-in-hand, shunned by the masses.

We simply don’t need another audio file format. MP3 / FLAC / AAC is probably good enough, until we have flying cars anyway. And we especially do not need another proprietary format that is riddled with DRM and all kinds of consumer-abusing mechanisms (think tracking cookies, spyware, behaviour profiling). And of course alongside this “MusicDNA archive” will be the potential to literally hack the shit out of the consumer who buys and uses it. No longer will viruses be delivered by email, but by iTunes (or equivalent) instead. If we ever do need another format, it will be open source, patent-free and flexible, such as Ogg Vorbis.

So here’s to MusicDOA and the millions of stupid dollars spent developing an obfuscated zip file. Well fucking done, clowns. When you’re done pissing money away, please build me my flying car.

Computing Rants Technology

Namebench Shows iBurst DNS slowness

I just downloaded and installed Namebench, a new open source project that benchmarks DNS servers, with a view of seeing how well my DNS is performing these days. All of these developments stem from the recent launch of Google’s public DNS service and the sudden realisation that a large part of the reason for interweb slowness, if you’re not in Africa, is the length of time it takes for a DNS query to complete. I do most of my mobile connectivity via iBurst, so I guess I like them to be speedy, unfortunately as the results below show, my closest DNS provider, my ISP, iBurst, has really bad average DNS response times

And it’s got fuck all to do with latency over a wireless link – the same connection shows an average DNS response time that is 217% faster from Datapro, and MTN just a little bit behind that. It’s the Windows servers iBurst is using to try run an ISP. Sad.

All I can say is I won’t be using iBurst’s DNS servers anymore, unless I *really* have to. But wait a minute, if I don’t need them to waste money on DNS infrastructure anymore, so why should I be paying them for it?
(Yes, I’m bitching and moaning – I’m tired of being served shit. I want more, better and cheaper).