General Internet/Links


I got to my PC this morning to find an e-mail in my
mailbox from ABSA entitled “ABSA Internet Access ADSL”.  Its basically an
e-mail about a new ADSL service you can get from them.  Now while I don’t
mind people sending me information about new products if I ask them to and in
some cases if the only reason I got the e-mail was because I was an existing

But in this case I’m not an ABSA client, in fact I think the last account I
had at ABSA was closed around 6 years ago, and I only got my current e-mail
address about 3 years ago.   So basically ABSA have bought my e-mail
address from somewhere and have spammed me.  To make matters worse there is
no way for me to remove myself from the list, so I have no way to request to be
unsubscribed from their spam mailings in the future.

So all that I can do is to e-mail them, their customer support, their ISP,
and anyone else who I think might be listening and ask them to sort it
out.  Fortunately there is a great for letter you can get over here that is
aimed at South African spammers, and has actually helped me out a few

In one case I was subscribed to a mailing list and any unsubscribe
requests were just not processed. I even called the people concerned and
they promised to unsubscribe me.  To make things worse their e-mails were
between 2 and 9mb each week (they were sending word documents with embedded
images).  I had gone for about 3 months requesting via phone calls and
e-mails and finally after e-mailing that form letter to the abuse contacts
at their ISP it was sorted out within a few hours.  Its amazing how quickly
people respond when you tell people that they may already have transgressed the
law and be opening themselves up to legal problems.

Anyway if you needed an excuse to dislike ABSA here it is. 
Unfortuantely I don’t think that any bank is without problems, but at least “my
bank” is not a spammer.  (Which brings up a whole other topic… I
really dislike the “My Bank is My Bank” adverts, but I loved the Cell C ripoff
that went something like “My phone is a small red squirrel called nigel” )

General Internet/Links

Cool online shop!

Wow!  I just placed an order for my wife’s birthday
present from Take2 and I found out something… They’re bloody cheap. 
I checked out prices for some music and some DVD’s (a few boxed sets and a few
individual movies) and they beat Kalahari’s prices (not difficult).  But
what suprised me is that usually if you order more than 3 or 4 DVD’s
you can usually get them way cheaper if you were to use  In
this case however, had the one set of DVD’s at about R350, had them at R200, and Take2 had them even cheaper than that. 

I’ve dealt with Take2 before and they’re really cool – a little understaffed
– but their products have arrived on time, and their site is really easy to
use.  Take 2 used to be more expensive than Kalahari, so I’ve used Kalahari
a few times… Their service sucks! Ever tried calling their support line? 
Or even using their revolutionary use of QQ for customer service.  I tried
QQ (yet another irritating IM client) and their customer service people are
NEVER online.  So I’ve always had to call them.  Their IVR system is
silly…  Instead of asking you what language you want to be spoken to up
front, they insist on repeating everything in both english and afrikaans until
the very last question.  I’ve waited for over 15 minutes every time I call
them, and their support people generally seem rather clueless.

Anyway, I just love getting good bargains online.  So next time you shop
for DVDs, CDs, Books, or electronic goods take a look at Take2 – maybe
they’ll suprise you like they did me.

General Internet/Links

Another free skype day…

Ok, so I just read that Wednesday (today) is a free skype day.  So hopefully this post won’t end up like my last one.  Now stop reading and go to Skype to get your free minutes!

.Net Stuff Development General Internet/Links

Google Earth and GeoCaching

I’m torn between two statements “There are two kinds of people on the earth, those who hack a use in Google Earth and those who don’t” and “There are two kinds of people on the earth, those who see the value of Google Earth and those who haven’t yet”.

A short while after the bombs in London someone posted a link to a file that contained the co-ordinates of the various sites where the bombs exploded.  It was a .kmz file and when I “double clicked” it, Google Earth opened and scrolled the locations into view.  It was pretty cool.

For an *AGE* I’ve wanted to do something with the waypoints of geocaches  in South Africa so that I can visually see how far the caches are from my house, and try and plan which caches to get in which order when I go caching.

I knew that gave you the ability to download the cache coordinates, so I set about learning their format (based on the file I downloaded), and I did the same for the Google Earth .kmz file.  Basically they’re both simple XML files (the .kmz file is just a zipped up .kml file which contains XML).  Unfortunately as a non-paying member I can only download the cache locations that are displayed in their grid, so I had to manually change to each page of their grid and download the locations on the page.  

20 minutes later I had them all downloaded, and merged into one big file, and I started processing them.  I’m not the biggest guru when it comes to working with XML so I kinda hacked my way around some XPath queries and XPathNavigators in .Net but I ended up with a pretty easy way to get all the info out of the GeoCaching .loc file, and I then outputted the right format for the Google Earth .kml file.  

The outputting of the .kml file is really bad because I got lazy so I’m not using .Net objects to create an XML Document or anything, I just use Console.WriteLine and write out what I want.  (I’ll fix that when next I have some time.)  But the result is a list of all the caching locations in South Africa.  And here is “Paul’s List of Google Earth Coordinates for GeoCaches In South  Africa” the list as of yesterday (12/07/2005)

[Update: There was a problem with the link to the file – aparently IIS 6 didn’t like the file type, butafter adding a custom mime header thingy to my IIS config, it was all sorted out.]

Geek food General Internet/Links

First day of the 10 free SkypeOut minutes promotion…

Today is the first of four days this month where you get 10 free minutes of SkypeOut calls.  Check it out on their site – Skype, or via Skype Journal.

[Update: Aparently the promotion started yesterday, so their 24 hours is over.  I’ll try and be a bit faster in posting the next time.]


News sources…

One of the guys at work asked about an hour ago if we’d
heard anything about the bomb blasts in London.  My immediate reaction was
to go to Google
, which was ok, but a bit difficult to find details quickly.  My
colleague however went to WikiPedia and got the news from there… I soon followed and
WOW, the news coverage was cool.  People had links to various
articles and while it was a bit disorganised it got the basics across
quickly and linked to relevant news articles.  At some point I ended up at
WikiNews –
their article was a lot better formatted, more journalistic sounding, but it was
just as “grassroots”.  They had an image from some guy’s moblog which he
took while in one of the trains that was trapped by the explosions.  How’s
that for news directly from the middle of the issue.

I wonder how the “old media” will deal with all this “new media”.  Its
pretty cool (even if its a bit geeky at the moment).  I’m definately not
someone who should comment on any of this – I don’t really know much about
journalism or other similar topics.  But in this case I definately
prefer reading news that’s *NOW* not 30 minutes old, as was the case with a
number of the local sites.  I have a feeling that there’s something big
that can happen with all these “grassroots-y” applications, community networks,
mobile access to the internet, and all this “always connected” stuff.

Even here in good old South Africa we’re getting a taste of it and I (the
geek) want more.  I’m sure there will be privacy and other personal
problems involved, but right now I’m looking at the good potential and I’m very

powered by IMHO 1.2

General Internet/Links

Discount PDA/SmartPhone games…

I read a news article on which said that PDAMill are giving 35% discount on three of their games (and if you buy one of them you get 30% discount on some of their other games)… Unfortunately there are only 2 smartphone games available on discount, the 3rd game requires a pocket pc (like the iMate JAM) But its super cool to get the games at a discount.

Most people who got an iMate phone from MTN will have a whole bunch of their games on their phones already…

Geek food General Internet/Links

Coolest keyboard…

I was just listening to Monday’s (a funny yet sometimes crude podcast done by the guys from and they were talking about Das Keyboard.  Its Uber cool – its like a normal keyboard but with no writing on it… so only uber-geeks can use it. πŸ™‚  Anyway, listen to Episode 22 (The Starwars Episode) and around 50 minutes into the show you’ll hear them talk about the keyboard.

PS: I was using my i-Mate and the memory stick I got from Leaf to listen to the show, its seriously better than listening to the radio during the 1.5hrs I spend in the car each day… Oh, and while I’m on the topic of radio shows, check out DotNetRocks – episode 110 (I think) has Kimberly Tripp talking about SQL Server 2005 – and for a chick, she’s darn clever. πŸ˜‰  Just kidding, but its kinda refreshing to hear a female geek speaking about tech stuff – there are so few of them out there!  Check out Episode 110 its cool.

General Humour Internet/Links

Awesome blonde joke

Just saw this and its gotta be one of the best blonde jokes ever.  Its the first time I’ve heard it and its aparently been around for ages (and has a long history).

General Internet/Links

Big news…

Ok, so I’m a bit of a geek but I’ve had *GREAT* frustrations since PayPal stopped accepting SA payments some time in 2001.  I used them in 2000 and when it came to 2001, it just stopped working. (No warning’s were sent which just annoyed me even more)  But since then I’ve come across SO many sites that use it, and most of them just assume that PayPal works worldwide.  I’ve managed to educate a few of them that PayPal actually didn’t like SA and they’ve worked around it by using the Amazon Honour System.  But there’s been stacks of things I’ve wanted to donate to or buy but I can’t because the site only uses PayPal and PayPal doesn’t do SA. (Aparently one of their founders was from SA)

Anyway, today I almost shouted for joy when I read Jo’Blog‘s entry entitled “Great news for shoppers” which linked to an announcement by PayPal that PayPal now accepts payments from South Africa!