2013-11-28

If its Thursday, it must be the end of the world day.

So today starts with a phone call to the SARS eFiling Help line. It is because I found I could not pay SARS. When I went to the banking details page, I was asked all the usual questions. Account name, number etc. But then I got to a field that asked 'Group Number'. Group Number? Not name? [Beatles would have been my first choice.] 

I tried various numbers starting with one, only to have an alert box pop up and say; "Make sure you enter the correct group number." So that isn't going to work...

After phoning the helpful lady at the helpdesk, I was told that this only supplied by the banks. Why? And why isn't there a message on the page to say; "Get this from your bank." 

Having switched on the main PC, Adobe pops up to say that yet another patch/fix/update is needed for 'Flash'. This then brings up Firefox with the update page.

Whilst I am writing this, the Adobe downloader is struggling to get to 100%. It is at 29% now. Maybe it will finish later today. Unfortunately I may have to unplug the phone line before then as the clouds are getting darker...

Ok, Adobe's downloader has failed. I was going to put a pic here of the web page. With a warning about the Macafee virus but the insert image page has failed to load three times now...

Maybe I shall finish this later...

Make sure you don't have that "optional offer" box ticked...


2013-05-06

Phone tribulations solved by going back 7 years!

It's Monday and the cat has decided that the sun is not warm enough. So I have to type this with a lap full of fur. The sun is shining, the temperature has reached 17C in the study and I have things to do...

Someone has made an old extension to a juke box into a modern variety with a Raspberry Pi. Mine has played music for some time with remote control over ssh from the new tablet. I still have not had a 'real application' jump into my lap yet. So I have only saved the pin out and found suitable plug connectors and stashed them 'close by'.

When I got my ZX81 and returned to Johannesburg, it took a comment by another radio amateur, that "it could not do anything real". He also said I could not do RTTY with the ZX81. It only took two months to demonstrate it to the club decoding Baudot (5 bit code). I had time in those days. These days something always seems to get in the way...

Just watching all the excitement and projects for the Raspberry Pi, I see some really sophisticated 'applications' going on. With incredible hardware comes very clever "applications". Quite a lot of them are not 'tied' to the hardware components of the tiny Linux box. The complexity of the Pi is vast compared to the simplicity of the ZX81. After all it has all the functions and features of a modern smart phone with a handset.

Then I got a new tablet. This also does not have a 'handset'. You cannot dial a number. You can send sms'. But it also cannot dial '*101#' and get the available air-time...

So I asked the 'customer support' how I could go about this...on their web site...they told me that they could not get hold of me on that number! Well! They also told me to go to the 'Virgin Menu' on my home screen and pursue the estimate from there. Then I replied to their email and I told them, I did not have a phone with a 'Virgin Menu'. Then they told me to go read the bill...Still does not help. As the bill is a historic record. Not an up to the second available air time. Ho hum.

I also did a search on their web site for 'tablet support'. Guess what? No results!

Maybe I have to write an Android app. Or write to Sir Richard...

Boet (my brother-in-law) has had a 'fancy' phone for a year or so. It has driven him mad. Switching off or going 'dark' at the most inconvenient times. It was also very soft when not using the radio...so I gave him my old Nokia. This works brilliantly. I can hear it ring from one end of the house to another...

2013-02-26

If you were wondering why your PC is now slower than before...read on.


I noticed yesterday at a client's workshop that the PC now had Mcafee Anti Virus installed. As I had already installed the Microsoft Anti-Virus [Security Essentials], I made a mental note to contact them later to remove it.

It is now called 'foistware' or 'cruft'. The software that you are landed with when you get a new PC or when you download the compulsory update for any ADOBE product. The probable reason for ADOBE adding an anti-virus product to the download, is the vast number of security holes in the ADOBE software products.

This did NOT go as planned...
Because when I tried to give them my feedback...


The reason why you have to have the ADOBE product in South Africa, is because SARS [South African Revenue Service] uses it on their web site to fill in forms. It is called 'eFiling'. It works well and corrects you if you make a mistake. It also tells you can't do that! When you try and correct a mistake from year old returns.

Back to the client's PC, it is now a three year plus old PC. It has had a variety of additional software installed on it. Most of it unnecessary and wasteful of system resources. A lot of the icons that used to be shown in the 'Tray' are now well hidden in the 'hidden icons' area. These indicate all the 'extra' programs that get loaded at start-up and are 'consuming' system resources. Most are pretty and useless. They are all 'slowing' the PC down.

I also noticed when I plugged my memory stick in, that the Lexmark Printing utility sprung into action. This is because the new Lexmark printer that was installed recently has 'grabbed' the hook into the USB 'plugged in device'...So that no longer functions as Windows 7 wished...

It is time for a 'spring clean'. A removal with 'extreme prejudice'.

2013-01-08

Nope, the world did not end...recalculating!

So the world did not end. Microsoft might have been glad if it did! Windows 8 hasn't sold well. More Linux laptops than Windows ones. More Android phones than Windows ones. Shame about the nice tablet [fondleslab]...

Still it is a new year. Hope it goes well for all of us. It would seem that South Africa is still on holiday. As none of the new price lists have 'hit my desktop' this year.

Oh well at least its sunny and warm here. My daughters are suffering a cold and wet winter in the UK. Reports of flooding and very low temperatures are reaching here in SA with the outside temperature [now] of 25C plus at nine o'clock in the morning. Its almost unbearable...

The Rand to Pound exchange rate wobbles around R13.80. It was supposed to have improved after Mangaung. Wow! I even spelt that right! Must be getting used to the Africanisation.

But wait! There is more. My NEOTEL phone number is no longer working. It hasn't worked properly since October. When I sent an email to find out, I got no response. I had to send the email from my Telkom account as the NEOTEL one never worked satisfactorily. It now did not work because I was 'cut off' and could not make calls. Fortunately I could receive them. After a month of no response, I sent an email cancelling the contract. No response for quite a while. Then I received an email stating:

"Kindly be advised that your request has been sent to our Retentions department (ref no.SREQ_58296749  ).  A retentions consultant will be in contact with you to confirm your cancellation request." 

This was on the 27th of November. I never had any communication from NEOTEL since. With the exception of the invoice! So I have gone to my friendly bank and stopped the 'stop order' with extreme prejudice!

IF only they had 'talked' to me earlier. I could have straightened out whatever 'issue' there was with my RICA. I would have kept using the wireless phone and praising NEOTEL for having a 'lightning proof' phone.

Many years ago, a colleague told me that it was a one to eleven ratio for the happy/unhappy customer to additional customers. So I shall now tell eleven of my friends and colleagues about the rubbish service and lack of response from NEOTEL...

I am now using Skype for phone calls. Its not lightning proof but it does work in my study at my main PC. My cell phone is also wireless and lightning proof. It also transfers data about three times faster than my NEOTEL phone at 158kbps. Since Telkom is removing the caps in February this year, I think this will work in my favour. Maybe I shall get a remote phone for the landline...

When I first moved here to Roodekrans, the lightning would strike the 'Praying Hands' statue in Maranata. This is less than a kilometre away. Not too much damage then. When the SABC built the gap-filler tower of 150 metres less than 50 metres away, things started to happen that interfered with my life. The flash and bang from the well earthed tower would make me and the cats jump into the air. Nowadays the additional communications towers along the ridge seem to have affected the lightning strikes. This year the tower doesn't seem to have been struck. But the flash and bang is very close, probably hitting one of the new towers. I know I am tempting providence stating this but so far there have been no cracks [discharges] from the phone lines or mains wiring. There were in past years...



Oh well, better get back to work...