Geek food General


I have an i-Pod… yeah… there’s a dash in the name… (and yeah… I didn’t come up with the name myself, I stole it from AndrΓ© O)  With my 512mb card on my i-Mate SP3, I have been starting to use it to listen to music… I’ve had it going playing .Net Rocks episodes this morning… I’ve played about 200 minutes of them so far, and the battery (which was fully charged this morning) is now at about 72%.  So if it carries on at this rate I’ll get just under 12hrs playback on one charge… (That’s including sending an sms or two and having the phone talking to the GSM network – i.e. I didn’t put the phone in “flight mode”)  So that’s not too bad at all!

I’m loving my i-Mate ( site) more and more the longer I use it. πŸ™‚

.Net Stuff Development Geek food General

Reflection Talk

Here are the notes from the talk I gave last Wednesday night at Torque IT (Thanks for the venue and the cool caffeteria)…

I hope it went pretty well for the guys that were there…  I certainly enjoyed giving the talk. πŸ™‚

Here are the promised notes/slides/samples.

The PPT is here and the code samples are here.  The PPT’s have word for word what I wanted to say.  The samples are all there, I’ve included a file “demos.doc” which are my notes to myself telling me what to show to the guys.  I didn’t include instructions to myself to tell me to copy DLL’s from one folder to another (which I needed to do in the Dynamic UI demo).

The whole reason I wrote out word for word what I wanted to say was so that even if you didn’t go to the talk you could get the slides and demos and step yourself through it.  (My aim was to put in enough info so that someone from another town could take the slides, notes and code and with a few modifications they could present the material themselves…) 

If there are any hassles, let me know. πŸ™‚

Development Geek food General

Talk, new Motherboard, The Apprentice and memory for my phone

Well, the talk to the JHB group of SA Developer.Net was really cool.  I’m not sure if I showed them much new stuff at all… I’d have loved to have some eval forms or something to figure out how everyone found the depth.  I kept alternating between thinking that I was rushing and thinking that it was all just way too basic for everyone…  Regardless of how it was received by people, I had lots of fun.  I was nervous as all heck before I started, but I was pretty ok after the first 30 minutes of talking.

I got my new motherboard on Tuesday… (after like 2 months of waiting before I ordered it, and another month after I ordered it) So on Wednesday after the talk I decided to install it.  Little did I know what I was in for.  Firstly I couldn’t get my PC to “see” both my hard drives… In the end it turned out that I had plugged in the wrong cable… Then XP didn’t like the motherboard so it wouldn’t start up – in fact it would just keep rebooting the PC.  I finally found my XP cd and managed to boot from that, and I thought I’d go to the Repair Console… which was really not a whole load of help… Eventually I managed to get the CD to try and repair the installation… but it hung after about 5 minutes of work. It took me a good while to realise this, by which time it was about 2am and I needed to sleep.

Lack of sleep the night before and the late night caused me to oversleep quite badly so Christie and I  didn’t go to the Pilanesberg like we’d planned… But we had a pretty cool day anyway. (Found a nice shop in the Broadacres centre that sells cool wooden puzzles) Last night I tried again to fix my XP… only to find that it needed my CD key, and since we’re house sitting at the moment I didn’t have it with me (I only took the CD from home).  So I’ll try again this evening.

At about 8pm as we were going to get supper, I got an sms from an old friend of mine (Matthew) who told me that another old friend of mine (Lynn) was on The Apprentice…  So I had to stop to watch that… Also the one dude who almost got kicked off (Nthato) was aparently at my old school while I was there.  Anyway, the girl’s team won, so Lynn is still in the game for next week.

I also got the memory card for my phone on Wednesday. So being without a pc at home I’ve had to wait till today when I’m back at work to try out putting music, etc on the phone.  I thought it was going to be a nightmare because with only WMP9 on the phone, WMP10 on my pc wouldn’t sync nicely with it.  But it picks up the device and it will even sync with it.  What’s even cooler was that I was under the impression that I’d have to sit and convert all my WMA files to a lower quality so that I could fit them on my phone… but I found out that if you’re tryiing to sync too much WMP will convert the files for you… But I didn’t want to wait till I ran out of space before I started making my files smaller, so I chose the option in WMP 10 where you specify for yourself what is the max quality you’ll allow on your phone.  I’ve gone for 64kbps, which is bad for audio fundi’s but considering that I’m just listening to audio talk shows and music while I’m in queue’s and out and about, I’m not complaining.  It’s even working with‘s player so I can listen to my audio books while I’m out and about… (I just need to figure out how to get more than 2 minutes 39 seconds of audio onto my phone at a time. :()

Development General

5 hours and 15 minutes to go…

With 5 hours and 15 minutes to go till my first talk at our local developer user group (SADeveloper.Net) I’m feeling pretty good about it… well, that is if you ignore the nearly crippling nervousness that I’m currently experiencing.

I have 12 slides, about 11 pages of notes (with key points almost finished being higlighted so I can quickly find my place) and 10 demo’s ready to go (about 3 of the pages of notes are just point form reminders of what I’m meant to show in each demo).

Unfortunately I only got my new motherboard for my personal PC yesterday, so there was no way I was going to set it up to my satisfaction and get the talk finished off in time… so I’m still using my friend’s laptop.  I’m a bit nervous, so I’m gonna have a backup zip of it all on my website and one on my memory stick.  So if all else fails, I’ll at least have my code with me, and I’m pretty sure that one of the other geeks there would have a computer I could use if it fell over on me. 

Anwyay, it should all be fine… I’ll have everything highlited and ready to go in the next hour or so and then I can relax.


Cheap Memory for iMates bought in SA

I got an e-mail from LeafWireless the other day because I’d entered a competition of theirs.  Basically it told me that they’re giving a 50% discount on their normal retail price for SD and MiniSD memory cards to people who bought iMate phones in SA from any of their resellers (valid until the end of July 2005).  So if you got your phone in SA (I got mine for free on contract from Nashua Mobile) then you can score… Here’s the prices they sent (they include VAT):

Retail Price Your Price
Kingmax SD 128 MB R 171.00 R 85.50
Kingmax SD 256 MB R 291.38 R 145.69
Kingmax SD 512 MB R 533.52 R 266.76
Kingmax SD 1 GB R 1,121.76 R 560.88

Kingmax mini-SD 128 MB R 181.26 R 90.63
Kingmax mini-SD 256 MB R 329.46 R 164.73
Kingmax mini-SD 512 MB R 557.46 R 278.73


If you’re interested in buying them, their terms and conditions are:
The offer is limited to one SD memory card per handset (IMEI number required).
The offer is valid between the following dates: 01 June 2005 to 31 July 2005.
The handset must have been purchased in South Africa from an authorised i-mate(TM) dealer.

And you can contact anyone in sales on +27 11 326 1844. (The e-mail said you should talk to Melanie, but I spoke to Domanique(?) and Kirsti(?) – not sure how to spell either of their names, but they were both really helpful)

.Net Stuff General

SA Dev June Meeting

I’m talking at this month’s SA dev meeting… The details are:

Date: 15th June 2005
Time: 18:00
Location: Torque-IT, Rivonia (Map here)
Contact: Andre Odendaal 083-410-7702 or email
Topic: Reflection

 RSVP here or here.

I’ve got 2.5 demo’s left to code – So far I’ve planned on 10 demos in total, but I’ve only got like 7 slides.  I’m gonna do some dry runs and fill in some gaps on the slides.  So at the moment I’ll be able to show lots of code to explain all my concepts simply and in detail, but I’m a bit lacking on “non code” visuals.  I don’t think its too much of a problem but I’d rather be over prepared than underprepared.

I hope to be able to show you some of the coolness of reflection, along with plenty of real world situations where they can help.  If all else fails, I hope that what I show will encourage others to take a deeper look at reflection.  After the talk I’ll post my PPT and code on my site and I’ll link to it from my blog… I’ll make certain that all the info that I talk about between slides, when I’m explaining slides and when I’m showing code are typed up in the notes of the PPT file so that even if you don’t go you can still kinda understand what I was trying to say.


Why not to mess with nerds…. (aka Rory vs the Liars!)

I just read Rory’s blog entitled “Rory vs. the Liars” and I can’t agree more.  The gist of the story is this: He went to fetch his car from the garage after being fixed after someone crashed into him.  The bumper wasn’t put back properly and the garage guy claimed it was how the car was made.  So in true geek form he used is Audiovox SMT5600 (aka iMate SP3) and googled images of the car to show the guy.  But not being satisfied with that he whipped out his laptop, found a WiFi network that was unsecured, “semi-hacked” his way onto the network and gave the garage guy nice big images of the way the car should be.  Needless to say the garage guy gave up and fixed it properly.

My summary is not 1/2 as funny and entertaining as Rory’s post, so go there and read it… and if you don’t subscribe to his feed already, do so!  It’s good! πŸ™‚


Good Support vs Bad Support

[Update: For a slightly less “just-after-the-incident” version of events here’s a copy of an e-mail I sent off… And also to let you know that all things in quotes in the text below are paraphrases, not direct quotes…]
WOW… I’ve just been amazed by differing levels of support for one product.  For just over 2 weeks I’ve been regularly disconnected from my iBurst connection.  Oddly enough it seems to happen when I’m busy processing the stats for my website.  I guess my PC is doing stacks of DNS requests to resolve IP addresses to domain names.

Anyway, I’ve been calling the WBS iBurst support line… My first complaint – They take about 5 minutes to answer and while on hold you get 10 second snippets of cool music with a 5 second “ad” for WBS, then 10 seconds of music again and another 5 second “ad”… They have a total of 4 “ads”.  So after 5 minutes I don’t give a damn about the fact that they’re the network provider for the national lottery, that you can get connected immediately after you’ve signed up, that their SMTP server is, and I certainly don’t want to hear one more time that they’re sorry for keeping me on hold.  The hold process almost makes me more frustrated than their poor support.

My second complaint is the lack of technical knowledge that the support guys show.  Their solutions to me are one of the following: “Reboot your PC”, “Disconnect and reconnect your iBurst” and “Your MTU settings are wrong”.  Now since this only started happening about 2 weeks ago and I haven’t changed my MTU settings since I got iBurst 3 months ago I don’t think that’s the problem but they insist that I check each time and their tone with me sounds like they think I’m just being stupid for even suggesting that it might not be the MTU setting.  The other two solutions are just not good enough since up until two weeks ago I’ve been able to be connected for days on end without needing to do either of the two. 

Oh… one time I was asked if I had any spyware software on my PC… so I said “No, I don’t” and the guy said “well then that’s it.  You must go get some spyware software to remove it from your PC”… How silly of me!  Here I’ve been running ANTI-spyware software to remove it! Needless to say I wasn’t impressed with the support guy.

Today I called in and I spoke to Porschia (not sure on the spelling, but that’s how it sounded) for the 3rd time in 2 weeks, this time she told me that “The disconnection problem has been ongoing for a long time and they have minimised it but not solved it completely”.  So I’m just supposed to accept that.  I told her that it only started for me in the past 2 weeks so MAYBE she should pass that info on to some high level support guy because whatever they changed in the last 2 weeks is what’s causing the problem.

At that point I gave up and called FusionReactor (who sold me the iBurst) and WOW what a difference.  If you bought your iBurst connection from them, do yourselves a favour and never call WBS directly again… ever.  Call the FusionReactor guys (I used their 0860 387 466 number)…  I spoke to Craig, who told me that perhaps it was my signal.  I thought “Oh crap, they’re worse than WBS” and told him that my signal strength monitor said I had over 90% signal… He responded by telling me that the iBurst modem uses 3 channels and the signal strength that the modem reports is just the one channel.  So it might see the base station perfectly but not be getting signal on one of the other channels.  He asked for my username and immediatly said – “oh I see you’re definately having problems”.  He was looking at my connection history and could see how often I’ve been disconnected.  He ran through the Anti-spyware check and a few others showing far more understanding of everything.

Eventually I found out that our network guys at work have via a “Windows Policy” (or something like that) disabled the windows firewall, so my PC has been connected directly to the internet via iBurst without firewall for an unknown amount of time.  I have no way to re-enable it because the windows firewall control panel thingy has everything grayed out and a little message at the top telling me that I can’t do anything because my network admins have stopped me from changing settings in it.

So I told Craig that I’d setup another firewall on my PC and I’d see if it fixes it, and he said he’d try find out if there’s anything else that could be wrong and he’d let me know. 

One phone call, great help, excellent attitude, no waiting, no fuss and I feel like my problem has been attended to and I’m happy!

Why can’t WBS do the same? Oh well… at least I’ve learned now – WBS sucks but FusionReactor and iBurst rules.


I (almost) disorder free :)

I saw this personality disorder test on someone’s blog and couldn’t resist taking it… Here are my results:

Personality Disorder Test Results

Paranoid |||| 18%
Schizoid |||||||||||| 46%
Schizotypal |||||||||| 38%
Antisocial |||||| 26%
Borderline |||||| 22%
Histrionic |||||| 22%
Narcissistic |||||||||| 38%
Avoidant || 10%
Dependent |||||| 26%
Obsessive-Compulsive |||||||||| 34%

Take Free Personality Disorder Test
personality tests by

All of my disorders are < 50% and the test creator says the following about the “Schizoid” disorder:
I don’t think Schizoid personality is a valid disorder, some of the smartest people in history were schizoid because they occupied a remote end of the intelligence bell curve. Schizotypal personality can encompass highly original thinkers as well as totally insane people so I think it’s a flawed type. I think the remaining eight disorders are generally valid.



Letter to FusionReactor

To: Grant Jackson (FusionReactor)
Cc: Shaun Green (WBS)
Subject: FusionReactor support Rocks! (not so with WBS’s support)

I’ve spent the past two weeks beating my head against the desk while I wait on hold or deal with bad support from WBS’s helpdesk.  In the past 2 weeks my PC keeps being disconnected from iBurst and then failing to reconnect. (I get error messages saying either that my username and password is invalid or that the server took too long to respond)  For two weeks I’ve been told “Check your MTU settings”, “Reboot your PC” or “Reboot your iBurst modem”.  This morning I had had enough, and I was about to start shouting to anyone who would listen that I was fed up with the situation.

Then I remembered that when I’d signed up with FusionReactor the guy who dropped off the modem had said I should call them if I had support problems.  So I gave FusionReactor a call.  I spoke to Craig and I was blown away.  Here is a “support person” who spoke with knowledge and understanding.  Once he had my username he almost immediately said “I see you have a problem” (because he could see how regularly I was being disconnected).  While I was talking to him he would say “Oh, I see you’ve disconnected again” or “You’re back online again”.  Something small, but it told me that he was using some system and had information at his fingertips.  He asked the right questions, listened to the information I told him, and actually understood the implications of what I was saying.

The WBS Support response up till today had been as outlined above, but today I was told by Porschia (who I’d spoken to twice before) that the disconnection problem has been around for a long time and that while its been minimised its not solved.  She seemed to think that I should accept that and she didn’t think that the fact that its only started happening to me in the past two weeks and it only seems to happen when I’m processing website logs on my PC (which does a number of DNS requests and other checks) could be useful information.  But when I told Craig that he seemed to understand that something must have happened in the past 2 weeks to cause it (which the WBS guys didn’t seem to get).  So when I suggested that perhaps WBS was disconnecting me because the network thought that the many DNS requests in one small burst were “malicious” he actually considered it as a viable possibility.

Heck even if he was lying to me, it worked.  I trusted what he said, and that made me feel like I was in good hands with FusionReactor. Eventually I found that our local network guys had disabled my windows firewall, and perhaps there was something involved there that was causing my disconnections.  So Craig promised to check up further on his side, and I said I’d let him know if it gets better.  I was happy, I had a solution and I had a provider who genuinely cared and helped.

Grant I wanted to let you know this because I was *REALLY* impressed. I’m cc’ing this to Shaun because I’m hoping he’ll send his guys on whatever training you sent your guys on. Or perhaps he can convince the HR department in WBS to learn something from FusionReactor’s HR department so that they hire more qualified people to represent them to the public.

I’m going to pass on the message to the guys who I’ve referred to FusionReactor, and I’ve blogged about the incident so that hopefully people who read it will see some light in the otherwise dark tunnel that is iBurst support.