Google Maps Street View South Africa

streetviewSouth Africa prepare yourself for an invasion of a different type. The Google Maps Street View South Africa project launches today. That hideous monstrosity on the right is the Toyota Prius that over the next months will be peeking over your twelve foot walls to help criminals check on the location of your 46inch Bravia.

No doubt this development is due to that little World Cup 2010 thing that is happening next year, but damn the footage is gonna look terrible and be mostly useless considering the state of construction our country is in. Looking for Rosebank Gautrain station? That’s it – behind the pillars of concrete and the zinc walling. Nelspruit Stadium? It looks like an empty piece of land to me… Well, you get the idea.

Anyway, from the marketing schpiel:

Top 10 Street View tips for users

  1. Explore parts of the world you’ve always wanted to visit – see famous areas, tourist attractions; buildings and architecture. Or reminisce about places you’ve visited and give recommendations to friends about where to stay and how to get there.
  2. Preview your holiday accommodation. How close is it from transport and amenities, or the beach?
  3. Show your overseas or faraway friends and family where you live; where you work; where you had a picnic; where your local drycleaner is.
  4. Can’t remember the name of that amazing restaurant or clothes store you visited a few months ago? Walk the streets and find it. And then use the driving directions in Google Maps, with Street View images of intersections and landmarks, to get there.
  5. Use Street View to study the geography, vegetation and landscape of different parts of the world. Teachers can incorporate Street View, Google Maps and Google Earth into lesson plans or arrange a virtual fieldtrip.
  6. Plan your day virtually – show your party guests where the venue is, or teammates where the weekend sportsground is. Arrange meeting spots with friends. Plan bike trips and walking routes.
  7. If you’re looking to buy or rent a property, make a more informed decision by taking a virtual walk-through of the area and property you’re interested in. Save time by not going to home-opens that don’t meet your criteria.
  8. Moving to a new area? Look at nearby amenities such as parks, roads, bus stops, shopping areas and parking when planning your move.
  9. Helpers and carers can search for buildings which provide wheelchair access, or avoid steps by checking out what a building looks like.
  10. Does your child have to walk to or from school? Plan their journey, show them local landmarks and look over the walking route together. Or see where their school fieldtrip is taking place.

Well, when they put it like that, I guess it sounds pretty cool. More here.


Diamonds are only De Beers’ Best Friend

Ever since watching the absolutely horrifying Blood Diamond (the movie where Leo DiCaprio can for like to talk wif a Souf Efriken accent), I’ve had a rather bitter taste in my mouth when it comes to any glassy rock, and their biggest monopolistic producer, who, it is claimed, deliberately stockpile the rocks to increase scarcity and therefore value. (And in doing so have probably directly and indirectly funded decades of wars in Africa).

This has led to some very strong negative sentiment towards ever buying a diamond (sorry ladies), and I tend to take out this sentiment on the poor salespeople behind the counter who try to divert my cubic zirconia preference elsewhere: “A Diamond? What? Have you ever seen the movie Blood Diamond!!!???”

Of course De Beers claim with a straight face that all their diamonds are 100% conflict free, but why would they ever say anything else, right?

As a monopoly, and a very controversial one at that, De Beers should be ready for parody in any way shape or form. Apparently they aren’t. De Beers was recently criticised in the following advert featured in a fake edition of the New York Times which was distributed in New York City on 12 November 2008:

The real New York Times had a good chuckle about the whole pardoy, but in contrast De Beers responded, well, with the typical legal sideswipe in the internet era – go after the domain registrar that hosts the domain name entry for the site, because they simply cannot ever get a real win against comment covered by free speech rights (that’s free speech in De Beers’ home, South Africa, never mind the First Amendment stuff the yanks use).

The sad truth is that large corporates will continue to exploit these backhand techniques, chasing the softer targets instead of taking a head on confrontation, or even better, actually embracing the criticism and firing directly back at it with facts and truths.

Sucks to them. As a consumer I’ll just keep my conscience clear and stick with the man-made rocks. (And besides I don’t have money for jewels like that, or even someone to give it to!!!)

By the way, given the fast growing economic depression, poor sales predict an artificially large drop in diamond production in the De Beers stable.


Why Africa Counts

Traditionally nobody gives a damn about Africa. Looking at this image, one realizes that attitude is a big mistake.

Computing Rants

The Internet will forever suck in South Africa

Internet Bandwidth by World Region

It appears to me that there is no incentive to host any online content in South Africa. Hell, there’s no point hosting anything internet related in the whole of Africa. We’ve lost. We’ve become part of the third world on the Interwebs. The dark continent remains dark in the digital age. Thanks Ivy. Thanks Telkom.

In contrast, tomorrow a 1Gbps (that’s gigabit-per-second!!!) internet service arrives in Japan. for $56 a month (i.e. less than R560/month).

Yes. Let me repeat that. Tomorrow a 1Gbps internet service arrives in Japan. Do you know how fast that is? That’s faster than most corporate LANs! That’s faster than hundreds of business internet connections. South Africa currently has a Total National bandwidth of around 400Gbps. Give or take a few gigs.

Very soon 400 households in Japan will have more internet influence than the whole of South Africa.

Our entire country could be denial-of-serviced off the interwebs by a handful of people in Japan.

Amazon Web Services, here we come. With the pricing structures Amazon (or their competitors) offer, there is absolutely no reason to commission another Internet server in the whole of Africa, ever again.

Yes, of course it’s fucking tragic.