Monday, April 14, 2014

Affordable Mobile Data

Some time ago I blogged about getting affordable data through FNB Connect. Where you can load APN settings on your phone for FNB Connect and purchase prepaid data. At first this seemed to be far cheaper than what the networks were offering in terms of bolt on data. Over time the networks revised their data costs and dropped the bolt on data to a fraction less than what FNB Connect was offering. So I moved back to MTN, which is my service provider.

Then the networks started offering cheaper stand alone data contracts, such as Cell C's 2gb for R99p/m. I then got myself a mifi and went that route. But the biggest issue was that the mifi battery doesn't last very long and was forced to switch back to my network.

This became frustrating because we know that mobile data is way cheaper than the bolt on data that the networks are shoving down our throats. I then searched for APNs similar to FNB Connect and came across Afrihost.

Basically what they do is offer data packages via standalone sim cards or as an APN through MTN. So I was in luck, because I am on MTN. I browsed through the packages they offer and came across a package called Mobile 500 for R58p/m, which comes with 500mb data and an additional 500mb anytime data for free! 

So I followed the prompts and pulled out my credit card and loaded the details into the site. 2 minutes later I got an email stating that my APN has been successfully linked to my sim. I then loaded the APN settings onto my phone and gave it a shot. I was dumbfounded! In under 10 minutes Afrihost had me up and running and I was able to use all functions as normal. I immediately cancelled my bolt on bundle that I had with Autopage for MTN, which was R79 for 300mb.

The beauty about all this is that if I reach my limit my data service will stop until I top it up again with one of their various options such as R99p/gb or wait till the next billing cycle. Usage notifications are sent to you periodically or you can just check online.

The whole process was simple, fast and efficient. Their website is informative and tells you as it is, with no hidden traps. All I can say is, "Well done Afrihost!"

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hay Day - Supercell

Ok, I know that Hay Day, by Super Cell, has been around for a while now and it might be a bit old for some people, but it's still a great game. I started playing it about a year ago and was hooked on it. Then I got busy and forgot about it. Four months later I logged on and saw that my farm was still alive.

I planted some crops and got started again. The aim of the game is to grow your farm by increasing what types of crops you plant and what type of animals you farm. You start of with the basics, like wheat and chickens. You grow the wheat and covert it into chicken feed to feed your chickens. After a while you chickens lay eggs and you can either sell them or use them to make better products like, baking a pie or bread, land then sell those. The final products yield a higher income and those profits can go towards upgrading your farm.

Hay Day isn't a game that you can play in a couple of hours and finish it. It's designed to take weeks, even months to complete. You can spend your own money and accomplish things faster but if you are like me and do it the old fashion way it can take a while, but the results are more satisfying.

The game goes well with Clash of Clans, because when you are waiting for things to be upgraded or completed in Clash of Clans you can kill time in Hay Day, and vice versa.

Give it a go, I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Hay Day is available for both Android and iPhone, on tablet and iPad as well.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rosetta Comet Probe

If you're looking for a space event to track this year, look into the Rosetta Comet Probe, which was launched in 2004 from Europe.

Rosetta was put into hibernation about 31 months ago after reaching its designated destination about 500 miles away from Earth. So it's still in our solar system.

Before Rosetta was put into hibernation the European Space Agency set an alarm clock that will wake it up in 2014. On Monday 20 January 2014, Rosetta successfully answered to that wake up call. Now tasks ahead for Rosetta will be warming up its star tracker sensors so that it can get co-ordinates for positioning itself. Then the probe will fire its retros to adjust its position so that its solar arrays can face the sun which will recharge its batteries.

Rosetta is scheduled to meet comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November this year and will be the first comet probe to enter an orbit around the comet, instead of just doing a fly by. Rosetta also carries a space craft, called philae, which will land on the comet to collect data. 

This space mission is the first of its kind and is a must follow event for everyone.

DSTV Remote Control - Buttons Not Working

Anybody having problems with their DSTV remote control i.e. certain buttons are not working? Well I've got a simple solution.

My decoder and remote is quite old now and I occasionally had a problem with my Exit button on my remote. It was quite annoying when looking at the info on a program and then not being able to get rid of that pop up information.

I searched online and a new one was going to set me back a hundred bucks. There was no way I was going to do that. So I decided to strip my remote to see what the problem was.

Once stripped I noticed that their was a lot of oil build up behind the contacts, use a tissue paper to clean this up. Find the Exit button contact on the under side of the keypad, you will notice that there is a slight bit of wear in that area. Clean it up with the tissue paper and then gets a tiny piece of foil from your kitchen and cut it up so that it just makes it to wrap around the Exit button contact. Re-assemble your DSTV remote, pop in your batteries and you should be good to go. This is guaranteed to work saving you R100.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Clash of Clans

I've been playing this game on my Android phone recently called Clash of Clans, by SuperCell. I was introduced to it by my brother, who plays it on his iPhone. Basically it is a defense strategy game that involves building a village and defending it with canons, towers and traps.

You gain resources in two ways i.e. by "farming" it yourself or attacking other villages and stealing it. Basic resources consists of gold and elixir. You get gold from gold mines and elixir from elixir collectors. Both can be upgraded to produce more resources per hour. And every time you upgrade the next upgrade costs more and takes longer to complete. Some upgrades can run into days leaving you twiddling your thumbs, which is the one thing I don't like about the game. Unlike the games rival, Castle Clash, you can play other parts of the game while upgrades are happening.

But the thing that makes this game interesting is a building called the "Clan Castle". The Clan Castle, once rebuilt, allows you to join a clan, which are other players around the world, and together with your clan you can help each other progress and defend your village by providing troops to each other. This gives you an advantage because even if you may be in a lower level, you can get advanced troops from you clan that will help you defend your village.

Apart from the clan support, joining a clan also gets you in contact with the clan members and you join in a live chat with them. My brother and I belong to a clan with a "unique" name called Game of Thrones. I must say that it's been better fun after joining the clan.

The game is great, but be prepared, this game can run into months of play if you don't want to spend money on gems that can be used to speed up build and upgrade time. Otherwise you can collect gems by cutting down trees and bushes and completing goals.

Monday, September 02, 2013

DIY vs World Economy

Have you found yourself doing home repairs and renovations yourself? Well I have, outsourcing to a contractor is becoming less of an option now days. A simple paint job on your house can take you into tens of thousands of Rands and when you actually price the material used it just a fraction of the cost.

So the question is are you able to do the job right yourself or do you need to get a contractor in. Well in my experience 90% of the time you are able to do the job yourself. It isn't difficult at all. Firstly you need to do some research, with Google available at your finger tips you can do almost anything yourself. Just open up a search page and punch in what you want to accomplish into the search engine and you will instantly have ten websites that will give you step by step directions on what needs to be done.

You also have to gauge how big your project is going to be. Don't start something and give up halfway through it. Create a project plan and stick to it. For example if you have a wall in your house that has become damp, due to a badly sealed shower or sink, you have to plan and use common sense as to what needs to be repaired first. The obvious answer is, repair the seals in the shower or sink first before you tackle the wall. By searching on the web on how to do this you will know that you have to remove the old damaged silicone seal first by applying silicone stripper and then renewing it with a new layer of silicone.

Once that is sorted you then need to tackle the wall. If the plaster is damaged you may need to re-plaster and this can be a bit tricky to by yourself. By doing a quick internet search you now know what materials you will need. Purchase the materials and then outsource just the plastering to a skilled labourer. Get the plastering out of the way by a the cost of a days labour charge and do the rest yourself. Thus saving you mega bucks.

This was just an example of what can be done with a little research. By doing it yourself you will also upskill yourself and you will become more proficient in DIY. Another trick that I have learnt was to get contractors in to quote you on the job, but be there when they are assessing and ask them what they are going to do and how. Quotes don't cost you anything but you get a good idea of what materials you need to buy and how to do the job.

So remember create a project plan, cost your materials and do your research!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Executive Thinkers

I came up with the Executive Thinker one day when describing myself to somebody at work. I didn't think much about it at the time, but later on I decided to do a JD on what an executive thinker would do. It turns out that, in a nutshell, you must be able to understand everything in your job environment and a bucket load of general knowledge and common sense.

You see, an E.T. Doesn't need to know the intricacies of the tasks that need to be performed, but just whether or not it can be done or more accurately whether there is somebody that can perform the task. If you think about it is like having somebody that can get the bigger picture of things and can find ways to instruct others in order to accomplish the task.

In my environment I know how the business operates and I know at least one person in all the departments in the organisation. I also have a high level and broad knowledge about information technology. This puts me in a situation to resolve or find a resolution to 99% of the problems that come my way and I find that I have become the problem "search engine" at our organisation.

The best part of this is that the more I am approached and the more solutions that I put out there the more knowledgeable I get and my solutions become more effective and efficient. This is not rocket science but a simple ability to be practical. If you can achieve this and also have the ability to retain the knowledge you will become a pillar to lean on at your organisation, making yourself indisposable.

But the trick to retaining your status as Executive Thinker is to better yourself, i.e. you have to know every aspect of your organisation, whether it be mail room services to even HR issues, you should know about it, maybe not the details but the overall big picture. Over time you will get to know the intricacies and you will find yourself being able to  perform anybodies task at your organisation.

Always find better ways to do things, they usually become "your baby" and you will find that the department or the organisation will start depending on you. After a while you should look at applying for jobs outside of your organisation and eventually settle at a more corporate environment this is where you can make your mark as an E.T. You can start as being a fry cook at a take away, before long you will be able to stand in as manager and one even be the manager, and then you can move up from there. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Keep Calm And Carry On Banking - New FNB Website

FNB just launched their new website and Online Banking site. And as expected there is a lot of negative feedback from people that are able to voice their opinions. But there is a lot of positive feedback as well.

This was a major change from FNB and to be honest I think that the short notice was the major cause of most of the negative feedback. In reality the new site is far better than the old one in terms of navigation. I'm sure that studies were done to come up with the new look and feel. There are quite a few hiccups that need to be ironed out, but other than that the site is good to go.

Once this week has gone by and things start to work as expected you will find yourself starting to like the new banking site and then in a month or two you will find that it is still up to international standards and deserves to retain its title as the Worlds Most Innovative Bank.

Navigation inside the Online Banking website is still driven by tabs so you cannot say that you are getting lost. But the thing that really changed was the menu bar on the left. This has been taken away and replaced by a pop out menu. In the old site this menu was starting to get a bit chunky and it was a bit difficult to locate certain menu items. With the new pop out menu you have available actions that are clearly marked out and categorised. So navigate to a tab and perform an action by choosing the pop out menu on the left.

Another handy feature is in-line actions. This means that on certain tabs you can perform actions that are available in line with the items that are on the tab itself, instead of going through the menu.

Overall it is a good design and the new site change also keeps phishing attacks low. So my advice to you is to keep calm and carry on banking :)