Saturday, June 13, 2015

FNB Connect Launches Sim Cards

FNB has taken a big step in the banking industry and have taken their FNB Connect service completely mobile by launching their very own SIM cards. It's all part of a greater synergy that the bank is trying, and succeeding, to achieve. The service is available from 15 June 2015.

FNB will be selling their SIM cards separately from their mobile devices. Although initial press releases indicated that their pricing would be a tad bit off the mark, which may cause this idea to crash, their actual launch pricing seems to be highly competitive, especially the voice and data 24 month contracts. With the data contracts you get day + night data e.g. for R95 you get 2gb + 2gb night data. Another plus is that you can get up to 40% of your bill back in eBucks!

If you are on the prepaid option you can do top ups directly from the FNB App. I predict that this app is going to be something that we can't live without in the near future.

RICA is a thing of the past, because the sim is activated via your Online Banking profile which is already FICA compliant. All other management tools for your SIM card will be via the online banking portal as well, such as real time usage and call history.

The service is run via the CellC network. Although CellC's network has been criticized before, they are, like FNB, making big strides through innovative ways of doing things.

I hope to see this service succeed as it will bring greater competition to the already over inflated mobile communications prices in South Africa.

Zapper App For Restaurants

I was super impressed recently when I took the family out for lunch at Gitano's at
The Pavilion shopping centre. We enjoyed our meal and it was time to call for the bill. Our waiter came by with it and I noticed that  there was a QR code on the bill. I asked the waiter about it and he gave me the run down on it.

Basically, by scanning the code using the free Zapper app you can instantly pay for your bill and get R25 off! So I gave it a shot, for R25 why not. I've got an android phone, so I went to the Play Store, searched for "Zapper App", installed it and went through the registration. The app asks for some of your details and you have to load a credit or debit card onto it. Once done, you are ready to pay. All this took me about 5 minutes to setup.

I scanned the code and the Zapper app picked up the details of my bill. It also gave me options to load on a tip for the waiter. It then gave me a total amount, and when ready I just confirmed the payment and it was all done. No need to sign anything, and the restaurant got notified of the payment immediately. No worries and no fuss. I would definitely like to see this in more places in South Africa, it just makes sense.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Whatsapp now with VoIP

The long awaited voice calls over one of the biggest IM service providers, Whatsapp, is now available. By upgrading your version of Whatsapp to the latest you will notice that you now have a phone icon on your chat sessions, if you were already on the latest version this service will be automatically enabled. The app developer has been making some major strides recently, even introducing a PC based web interface for Whatsapp, by incorporating and innovative barcode scanner.

You can also get to the call menu by just clicking on the avatar of your contact. The service uses your default ringtone when you are receiving a call and you answer by sliding the green answers icon across your screen, just like you would when answering a normal call. 

Voice quality seems to be good, however I did notice that there was a significant delay in the conversation. But this is expected, and I'm sure the guys over at Whatsapp will have this resolved in the near future. Data usage is also minimal, not to sure what codec they are using but it is providing good audio quality, which may also be the cause of the delay, but we shouldn't rule out South Africa's "state of the art" broadband network. 

Whatsapp currently does not have any settings for voice calls, so you can't tweak it to work in your current network conditions. But it is still early stages for the IM provider and I'm sure that they are going to introduce Whatsapp to fixed and mobile number calls, of course this is a service that you will surely have to pay for and I'd like to see what the charges amount to. 

I currently use FNB Connect and R50 gets me about an hour of calls to mobile numbers and is per second billing as well. Call quality is also good, the competition will be healthy to bring down call charges. It may even start to impact the mobile network providers and hopefully they will be able to bring down their charges as well!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Axxess 3G Mobile Data

Okay, as you might know by now I'm always looking for cheap internet connectivity. Previously I posted an article on Afrihost, who where giving out amazing data deals that run over the MTN network. MTN recently took some interest in them and bought out a big chunk of the company, and I'm not implying anything here but, shortly after that the amazing deals from Afrihost came to an end.

So I was on the hunt again and came across Axxess, very similar to what Afrihost was offering but coming in just a tad bit cheaper. It's seems that they are running on the same technology i.e. they are piggy backing on the MTN network and you are able to load your Axxess APN onto your MTN contract sim card.

You also get a simple but efficient control panel that you can load as an app on your Apple or Android device, giving you access to your usage 24/7 and also giving you the ability to top up your account at any time. Another plus, and I do believe that this will seal the deal, is the 3 months rollover i.e. is you have not finished your data in the current month it will rollover to the next and if still not used it will expire after the 3rd month.

The sign up was simple and quick, I registered on the website,, and loaded my credit card details, the next day my APN was ready to use, I had an issue with provisioning my sim card due to it being provisioned with Afrihost, but if it wasn't for that I would have been up and running on the same day.

So far the 3G service has been reliable with the APN not going dead as what used to occasionally happen with Afrihost. Top ups are immediate within the Axxess app and the online control panel. To all MTN contract customers out there this is a no brainer, if you have an MTN contract and you use data, you have to go with Axxess.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mission to Mars

Earth is rapidly reaching capacity. Year on year there is an exponential increase in the human population, and it's about time we seriously thought about alternatives.

Mars One has taken the next leap for mankind by starting an initiative to transport humans on a one way trip, i.e. no return, to start a colony on planet Mars. Candidates volunteer themselves and then go through a series of interviews and physicals and eventually shortlisted for the trip to Mars.

There will be multiple one way trips in groups of fours.  Each trip will bring in supplies and equipment and materials to expand the colony.  Eventually the aim would be to sustain themselves without aid from Earth.  The first trip is scheduled to leave in 2023 and will arrive at Mars in 2024.
The magnitude of this event is beyond comprehension. If the first mission is successful it may be the beginning of the next stage of evolution for mankind. 

There are questions around the feasibility of the project. Although there are various companies that have already bought into the idea, a project of this nature does not have a budget.  Expenses are literally open ended. Think about it, there is no telling what to expect. Date from Curiosity is limited, We know about the composition of the ground and air in and around Mars, but once there is a human life form on the actual planet surface, that human brain that is absorbing all the information from the planet will be the ultimate data capturing and processing computer of all time to tell us what we really need to do to colonise and survive on Mars.

But once that is done, you have to ask yourself the question... "now what?". Will it be just like it is on Earth? I'm not talking about buildings, parks and beaches etc., I'm talking about economy, currency, politics. Will it be the same or will humankind start a new way of thinking? Now you start to think about all the sci-fi movies and series that you've ever watched in your life, personally I think that the Star Trek scenario will prevail, but all we can do is wait and see what mankind chooses to do.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Mugg & Beans new Red Velvet Hot Chocolate

For all the Red Velvet fanatics like me out there, you have got to give the Red Velvet Hot chocolate at Mugg & Bean a try.  This delectable cream cheese topping infused with fresh cream is enough to wake up your wintery tastebuds and bring you back for more.

The red velvet cupcake crumbles finishes the top of this hot chocolate off perfectly.  A small price of R26.90 will be all that you have to pay for this absolutely marvellous hot drink.

The red velvet cupcake would compliment this drink well for a special kiddies treat or a family wanting to spend some quality time together, all would work well whilst enjoying the new Red Velvet Hot Chocolate from Mugg & Bean.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Sprinkle Islands

Sprinkle Islands is a great physics based game by Mediocre. It has a million plus downloads so far on Google's Play Store and the best part is, it's free. It's available for both Android and iPhone.

You drive around on a little red fire truck and put out fires that are all about the islands. The villagers that you have to save are called Titans.

You are given a tank of water and the less you use to put out fires the more points you get.  There are also a lot of puzzles that you have to solve, by using a bit of physics.

The game comes with great graphics and the best part is that there are no annoying ads all over the screen.  The only downside to it is that you get only eight levels to play and if you want to play more then you have to get the full paid version.  For just 17mb I think it's worth a shot. You will definitely enjoy it although it's very short lived.

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!"