Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Mozilla releases Firefox 3.5

Firefox 3.5Firefox 3.5 was released today. It's considered a major upgrade for the open source browser since it includes a lot of new features and is considered to be twice as fast as its predecessor. It's my preferred browser (Google Chrome is my second choice).

New features

Firefox 3.5 includes several new features; here's a few:

  • Big improvement in performance due to the TraceMonkey Javascript engine (Mozilla claim it's up to twice as fast as Firefox 3.0)

  • Private Browsing mode where all websites, cookies and history for that particular session is deleted after the browsing session has ended (also known as Porn mode).

  • Forget this site - You can delete sites from History individually, including their Cookie and temp files

  • Support for open audio and video formats

  • Supports location-aware browsing - If you're willing to share your location with websites, they may be able to use that information to provide localised pages and information. (hmmm... Big Brother? At least you can say 'no')

  • Undo closed window (if you accidentally close a tab, you can just undo it)

  • Tab tearing - Can move a tab or drag it away to open it in its own window (Google Chrome beat them to it though)

  • Keyword AwesomeBar filters - The address bar offers a list of suggestions as you type based on your bookmarks and browsing history but now you can search using filters, e.g. by typing "camera *" for just your bookmarks with the word 'camera' in them

  • Better session restore - When your browser crashes with several tabs open, you know have the option to choose which of those tabs should be restored when the browser is re-opened again; therefore giving you a chance to exclude the tab that caused the crash in the first place

  • Colour profiles - Most colours look the same on the web, because they're filtered for quick viewing in all browsers. Now you can use dynamic colour profiles for each picture resulting in the picture looking exactly the same as the artist intended when he created it

  • HTML 5 media support - If you're viewing a page that contains video, it is rendered as part of the page, not as a separate piece of content in Flash anymore. This allows instant commenting on videos.

  • Support for downloadable fonts - Websites are always coded with reference to a font that must be installed on your computer for it to be displayed correctly when you view the page. Now developers can reference external fonts that can be used to display the web page you're viewing, regardless of whether you have that specific installed or not.

Firefox add-ons/extensions

Firefox's biggest success is the hundreds of add-ons you can install that enhances the browsing experience and adds functionality. These add-ons are created by external developers. I use several add-ons and have come to rely on them quite a bit.

Temporary problem

The only downside to any new major Firefox release is that some of these Firefox "add-ons" won't automatically be compatible with the new Firefox version. The reason is simple - the external developers who created them, first need to update the code of the add-on software to ensure compatibility with the new Firefox browser version. This usually takes a few days before new compatible add-on versions are released.

Since I rely heavily on Firefox add-ons I therefore don't upgrade my Firefox browser immediately after a major release. Or rather, I don't do it on my primary computer. :) I installed Firefox 3.5 on a test computer and 5 of my 17 Firefox add-ons didn't work. This was expected and once all of them work, I'll upgrade my primary computer with the latest version as well.

Download Firefox 3.5 Read more on "Mozilla releases Firefox 3.5"!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Springboks win Test series against the Lions!

Andries Bekker congratulates Morné Steyn after his winning kickThe South African Springboks won the Test series against the British and Irish Lions in dramatic fashion today after an intense battle in the second Test. This was rugby at its best with both sides never giving up. Morné Steyn, coming on as substitute towards the end won the battle with a cool penalty in the last minute of the match. Final score: SA 28 B&I Lions 25

First half

There was a fantastic atmosphere at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria with a sea of green & gold Bok jerseys and a red wave of Lions jerseys around the stadium.

The match started off badly for the Springboks when flanker Schalk Burger (in his 50th Test) was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes for eye-gouging, after a moment of sheer insanity. This put all the pressure on the Springboks since they were left with 14 men on the field. At this level, losing a player makes a huge difference and the Lions took the opportunity and scored 10 points during that time. Burger was cited after the match and could face a lengthy ban.

A few minutes the Springboks hit back with a well-worked try by winger JP Pietersen, scoring off a good lineout ball. However, the Lions did most of the playing in the first half and dominated possession. Halftime score was SA 8 Lions 16.

Second half

The Springboks woke up in the second half and started a great comeback to eventually take control of the match. Winger Habana scored a superb try with 20 minutes to go after a well-worked set piece. Centre Jaque Fourie also scored a great try about 10 minutes later, having to work hard for the try carrying a few players with him over the tryline. The decision was up to the TMO and he decided there was no evidence that the player stepped over the sideline and the try was awarded. Flyhalf Morné Steyn kicked a difficult conversion to make it 25 - 22, with the Boks taking the lead for the first time in the match.

In the last minute Lions replacement Ronan O'Gara took Habana out in the air and a penalty was awarded, which Steyn converted to win the match. An epic moment for him and the team, since that kick clinched the series win.

Bok flyhalf Pienaar had an off-day and missed a few penalties which put a lot of pressure on the Boks. Jaque Fourie showed his class (again) and quite frankly, he proved he's the best no. 13 in the country and should start for the Boks instead of Adi Jacobs, who again couldn't deal with the physical presence of the Lions centres.

There were a few off-the-ball incidents and even though lock Bakkies "The Enforcer" Botha is a tough customer he was a bit over-zealous today. He was also cited after the match for dirty play. However, after seeing the replay I thought this particular citing was unwarranted because Botha was simply clearing out the ruck (which is allowed) with a big shoulder charge and Welsh prop Adam Jones got injured in the process. Off-the-ball incidents did unfortunately somewhat sour what otherwise was a great spectacle of rugby.

Players who stood out

Fullback Kearney, lock Shaw and flyhalf Jones had great games for the Lions. Brian O'Driscoll's experience showed and he clearly was the talisman for the Lions. Unfortunately he seems to lose focus since he tends to eagerly participate in the off-the-ball incidents as well, which is a pity. Boks that stood out were lock Matfield who again dominated the lineouts, hooker Du Plessis (who unfortunately had one moment of madness when he took the penalty himself instead of just adding more points on the board through a penalty kick), wingers Habana and Pietersen with great tries each, scrumhalf Du Preez for an allround good performance and the replacement flanker Brüssow who again was brilliant (and should be a shoe-in as fetcher for upcoming Tests), and of course flyhalf Morné Steyn who stayed calm during the last 10 minutes and slotted the winning penalty under immense pressure.

Again Springboks coach, Peter de Villiers, made me frown with his tactics because in the second half the referee decided there should be uncontested scrums since both Lions props left the field with injury. The coach then inexplicably left the props on the field, where the obvious step was to replace both props with faster players who would have enhanced the Boks' chances to dominate possession.


South Africa (8) 28: Tries by JP Pietersen (11 min), Bryan Habana (62 min), Jaque Fourie (73 min). Francois Steyn kicked a penalty and Morné Steyn two conversions and two penalties.

B&I Lions (16) 25: Try by Rob Kearney (6 min). Stephen Jones kicked a conversion, five penalties and a dropped goal.

Final thoughts

The Springboks showed good character and handled the pressure better when it mattered most and that made all the difference. It was a close contest but in the end the Springboks deserved to win the series. Apart from winning the Rugby World Cup, playing against the Lions is a dream for all Springboks and this series win will undoubtedly be remembered for years to come, by players and supporters alike.

Press coverage

I always make a point of reading the rugby articles from news sources originating in the country of the opposition to get a more balanced view on the games.

However, trying to find objectivity in the British press has proved to be (mostly) unsuccessful. You'd think the british sides won every match they played throughout the year, if you look at the way the subjective rugby journos carried on! Unbelievable. Stephen Jones (from Times Online) in particular does not have a clue; he clearly is a tabloid journalist at best with his main focus to irritate, instead of reporting on the game itself.

However, this article by Stuart Barnes (who also writes for Times Online) was a breath of fresh air simply because it's objective and a good reflection on the Lions' efforts on this tour.

If you want a good laugh at complete lack of objectivity, read the BBC 606 rugby forums for some proper one-eyed british support. "We could have, should have won" seems to be the trend throughout. You have to smile.

The final test is on Saturday, 4 July in Johannesburg (Ellispark) at 15h00 (GMT+2). Read more on "Springboks win Test series against the Lions!"!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Pop star Michael Jackson dies at 50

Michael JacksonMichael Jackson, the King of Pop, has died at the age of 50. He suffered a heart attack at his home in Los Angeles. The paramedics were unable to revive him and he was rushed to UCLA Medical Centre where he was in a coma but declared dead shortly after.

Michael is survived by three children: Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr., Paris Michael Katherine Jackson and Prince "Blanket" Michael Jackson II.

Early success

Michael Jackson started his career in entertainment at age 11 as part of the Jackson 5 group. He went on to record ten albums as a solo-artist and dominated the world pop charts during the 1980's. His 1982 album "Thriller" — which included the blockbuster hits "Beat It," "Billie Jean" and "Thriller" — remains the biggest-selling album of all time. He also owned The Beatles backcatalog but later sold it to Sony. I was a youngster when "Thriller" was released and I can vividly remember how every kid on the block tried to imitate his "moonwalk". (see video below)


He was married to Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley, from 1992 to 1994. He married nurse Deborah Jeanne Rowe in 1997 with whom he had two children. They divorced two years later. His third child was born in 2002 but the identity of the mother is unknown.

Sexual abuse allegations

Jackson has had major ups and downs during his career. Although he was an extremely successful performing artist, he was also accused of sexual abuse at his Neverland Ranch. After a documentary "Living with Michael Jackson" was aired, where he was interviewed by British journalist Martin Bashir, he faced several sexual abuse allegations and was involved in a 5-month trial in 2005, but was acquitted on all counts.

Michael Jackson doing his famous MoonwalkJackson's popularity remained high throughout his career and the effects of extreme public scrutiny certainly took its toll which lead to an addiction to painkillers. He suffered from vitiligo (chronic relatively common dermatologic disorder that causes depigmentation in patches of skin) which caused a dramatic change in his appearance over the years.

Financial problems

In 2006 he moved to Bahrain to get away from all the constant media attention and has been living there since. Towards the latter part of his career he had major financial problems due to his lavish lifestyle and borrowing against his assets, the Neverland Ranch and his music catalogs.

He decided to return to the stage for 50 "This Is It" concerts at the O2 Arena in London from July 2009 to March 2010 (all sold out). He was in Los Angeles to rehearse for the first set of concerts when he suffered cardiac arrest at his home and went into a coma.

He was eccentric and misunderstood but regardless of his personal problems and bizarre lifestyle, he was a superb singer/performer who changed the Pop landscape forever.

Michael Jackson singing "Billie Jean" - performing his famous "moonwalk"

Related links
Pop star Michael Jackson dead at 50 - LA Times
Singer Michael Jackson 'is dead' - BBC News
Michael Jackson dead at 50 - CNN International Read more on "Pop star Michael Jackson dies at 50"!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

SEACOM cable launch delayed

SEACOM Africa mapSEACOM announced today that the African undersea cable project has been delayed - due to pirate activity. The launch date has been moved from 27 June to 23 July 2009. Pirates have been ruling the east coast of Africa for quite some time now and cargo ships are hijacked on a regular basis.

Increase in international bandwidth

South Africans have been waiting in great anticipation for the arrival of this cable since it will substantially increase South Africa's international bandwidth capacity. Along with the other planned cables mentioned below, this will eventually drive down competition of bandwidth prices which will benefit consumers. Currently the cost of broadband in South Africa is significantly higher than in other countries.

Planned undersea cables servicing the African continent

The confirmed cables due to serve West, East and Southern Africa are:

1. SEACOM, East and Southern Africa, 1.28Tb/s – Due 23 July 2009
2. GLO-1, West Africa,640 Gb/s, ready for operations, 2009
3. TEAMS, East and Southern Africa, 120Gb/s – Due September 2009
4. EASSy East and Southern Africa, 1.Tb/s – Due June 2010
5. MainOne, West Africa, 1.92Tb/s, due 2010
6. WACS, West and Southern Africa, 3.8Tb/s, Due 2011

Read more on "SEACOM cable launch delayed"!

Cape of Storms

Winter has truly arrived! A big cold front has hit Cape Town in spectacular fashion yesterday with torrential rains, cold weather and gale force winds, causing huge waves. An oil tanker almost stranded in Blouberg due to the strong currents.

The Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias, named the Cape the "Cape of Storms". It was later renamed as the "Cape of Good Hope" by John II of Portugal due to the successful sea route to India/the East.

Here's a spectacular photo taken by Michael Walker (Cape Times) capturing a wave bashing the shoreline at Three Anchor Bay in Cape Town:

Stormy waves at Three Anchor Bay

On a different note, the Emerging Boks played against the British Lions last night in atrocious conditions at Newlands rugby stadium. The crowd of around 40 000 was therefore quite impressive. It ended in a 13-all draw with the Emerging Boks scoring a try in the last minute of the match. Read more on "Cape of Storms"!

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Springboks narrowly wins first Test vs Lions

Final whistle - Springboks win first Test against the British & Irish LionsThe South African Springboks won a nailbiting encounter today in Durban when they beat the British & Irish Lions in the first Test by 26 - 21.

The first half was dominated by the Boks and the South African front-row held their own very well. Loosehead Springbok prop, Tendai "The Beast" Mtawarira, mauled and bullied his opponent, Phil Vickery, who eventually was substituted five mins into the second half. Boks lock, Victor Matfield, also dominated the lineouts and stole several balls from the opposition.

Comfortable lead

The Springboks had a commanding halftime lead of 19 - 7 after an early try by captain John Smit, three penalties by flyhalf Ruan Pienaar (who I thought had a great game considering his long injury lay-off), and one penalty by Francois Steyn. In the second half this lead increased to a comfortable 26 - 7 after some great rolling mauls by the Springboks and a try by flanker Heinrich Brüssow.

The comeback

Then everything changed... the Lions decided to play some rugby and the Springboks' lack of match fitness also started to show. The Lions dominated possession and during the last 12 minutes of the match the Lions reduced the scoreline to 26 - 21 through tries by flanker Tom Croft and scrumhalf Mike Phillips. A great comeback by the Lions but it was a case of too little, too late.

The Lions squandered two try-scoring opportunities and where stopped by great defence by the South Africans. Bok centre Jean de Villiers put in a spectacular defensive effort by getting his arm under the ball when Lions winger Monye went over over the tryline.

When the Springboks lead 26 - 7, coach Peter de Villiers made a substitution but... then he went on to substitute everyone!? A very naive move, showing a bit of arrogance since that implied he thought the game was already won. Also, substituting the captain John Smit in particular, was a bad move. The Boks went into a lull and although they defended well, they should have persisted with their own game plan and put the result beyond doubt.

Final thoughts

The Lions can take a lot out of this match; they can compete with the world champions, they gave away far too many unnecessary penalties and know that prop Vickery should not face the Springboks again, he was really woeful in the scrums. The Lions were clearly fitter towards the end of the match, showing that their warm-up matches obviously contributed to their cohesion. However, the second and third Test will be played at altitude and this should favour the home team.

I expect the Springboks to be much stronger next week since they clearly lost focus during the last quarter and hopefully someone will also give Pierre Spies a wake-up call, since he was invisible today. The Boks should also be fitter and the cohesion better.

The second Test is next week Saturday, 27 June in Pretoria (Loftus Versfeld) at 15h00 (GMT+2). Read more on "Springboks narrowly wins first Test vs Lions"!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Springbok squad selected for first rugby Test vs the Lions

Springbok emblemSouth African coach, Peter de Villiers, named the 22-member Springbok squad today who will face the British & Irish Lions on Saturday, 20 June in Durban.

Francois Steyn replaces the incumbent (but injured) Conrad Jantjes at fullback; Adi Jacobs is in at 13 ahead of Jaque Fourie (I would have picked J Fourie to start); Ruan Pienaar recovered from injury to retain the flyhalf berth ahead of Morné Steyn who had a great Super 14 season and the fetcher, Heinrich Brüssow, who had a great game for the Cheetahs against the Lions earlier this month, comes in for Schalk Burger who couldn't recover from injury in time.

Here's the full Springbok squad (Test caps in brackets):

15. Frans Steyn (27)
14. JP Pietersen (24)
13. Adi Jacobs (21)
12. Jean de Villiers (46)
11. Bryan Habana (46)
10. Ruan Pienaar (27)
9. Fourie du Preez (43)
8. Pierre Spies (19)
7. Juan Smith (54)
6. Heinrich Brüssow (1)
5. Victor Matfield (80)
4. Bakkies Botha (55)
3. John Smit (81) – Captain
2. Bismarck du Plessis (21)
1. Tendai Mtawarira (10)


16. Gurthrö Steenkamp (20)
17. Deon Carstens (7)
18. Andries Bekker (13)
19. Danie Rossouw (36)
20. Ricky Januarie (34)
21. Jaque Fourie (42)
22. Morné Steyn (uncapped) Read more on "Springbok squad selected for first rugby Test vs the Lions"!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Cape Town's new Integrated Rapid Transit (IRT) system

IRT busCape Town is the most popular tourist destination in South Africa and recognised as one of the most beautiful cities on earth. Public transport is therefore key to sustain the city's role as South Africa's leading holiday destination. The City of Cape Town has therefore decided to implement an extensive Integrated Rapid Transit (IRT) sysatem to alleviate traffic congestion, reduce transport times and stimulate new developments in the Cape metropole.

According to Kylie Hatton, City of Cape Town media manager, the proposed IRT system will include a rail plan, a bus rapid-transit (BRT) system, improvements to conventional bus and minibus operations, cycle ways and bicycle parking, pedestrian and urban space upgrades, metered taxi 
integration and park-and-ride facilities.

Click to view larger map of Cape Town IRTThe IRT project consists of four phases and is expected to take 10 to 15 years to complete. Construction of the first phase has started and is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.

Phase 1A: Includes airport - city link and city to soccer stadium link
Rest of Phase 1: West Coast link along the R27, including Du Noon, Doornbach, Atlantis and Mamre, will be rolled out in 2010.
Phase 2: Cover areas south east of the city, including Khayelitsha, Mitchell's Plain and the southern suburbs
Phase 3 and 4: Cover northern surburbs e.g. Bellville and Durbanville, the Delft and Blue Downs areas, extending all the way to the Helderberg
Details of phases | Map

This project will undoubtedly cause major traffic disruptions during the construction period and the existing taxi assocations are not happy about the proposed plans but the benefits of an integrated public transport system far outweighs the negative. Roll on IRT!

Related links
Cape Town implements Integrated Rapid Transit (IRT) - Cape Town Partnership PDF brochure
Cape Town's Integrated Rapid Transit site
Cape Town's rapid-transit system begins taking shape - Creamer Media Engineering News
Image source - City of Cape Town Read more on "Cape Town's new Integrated Rapid Transit (IRT) system"!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Invictus starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman

Invictus (Latin for 'unconquered'), a movie about Nelson Mandela after the fall of Apartheid and how the 1995 Rugby World Cup helped unite South Africans, will be released on 11 December 2009. The movie was filmed last month in South Africa with Clint Eastwood as dirctor and starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, the 1995 South African Springboks captain.

Here's a few pics of Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman while filming Invictus. Freeman looks quite similar to Mandela in terms of appearance but although Matt Damon is a fine actor, he is considerably smaller than Francois Pienaar in size. I hope some creative camera angles while filming the movie solved this problem. :)

Invictus trailer

Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar
Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar
Francois Pienaar
Francois Pienaar
Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela
Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela

The real Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar

The real Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar after South Africa won the Rugby World Cup in 1995.
Pics source for Damon/Freeman: Socialyz

The movie is based on John Carlin's book, Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation. Read more on "Invictus starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman"!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Windows 7 to be released on 22 October

Windows 7Microsoft has confirmed that its newest operating system for personal computers, Windows 7, will be released on 22 October this year.

Windows XP was released worldwide on 25 October 2001 and Windows Vista on 30 January 2007. Microsoft is therefore planning to release Windows 7 less than three years after Windows Vista, which is really good news. Microsoft has received a lot of criticism in the past for having too long development cycles between operating system releases.

Related link
Windows 7 to launch October 22 - CNET news Read more on "Windows 7 to be released on 22 October"!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Springbok squad announced for the Lions series

Springbok emblemAs expected, the flyhalf of the Super 14 champions (Bulls), Morné Steyn, has been included in the squad to cover for incumbent Ruan Pienaar, in case of injury. He is the only new Springbok announced, apart from Earl Rose who has been selected before, but never played.

Wynand Olivier is a great example of a player who was selected for the Boks before, dropped due to mediocre performances and then re-ignited his career with a superb Super 14 season.

25 players of the 28-man Springbok squad selected have been retained from the squad that toured Wales, Scotland and England in November 2008. The Bulls and Sharks provided the bulk of the squad with 10 players each.

Incumbent Springbok fullback, Conrad Jantjes, broke his leg earlier in the season. Some say centre Jaque Fourie is expected to move to fullback as cover. Even though I understand the move since he's such a talented player, I'm disappointed that we may not see South Africa's top centre pairing of Jean De Villiers/Jaque Fourie face the British & Irish Lions. If Pienaar is selected at flyhalf, you must have Frans Steyn at fullback with his big boot.

Springboks squad for the British & Irish Lions tour
(20, 27 June & 4 July)

Forwards - Andries Bekker, Schalk Burger, Bismarck Du Plessis, Ryan Kankowski, Tendai Mtawarira, John Smit (c), Juan Smith, Pierre Spies, Victor Matfield, Bakkies (v/c), Bakkies Botha, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Deon Carstens.

Backs - Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez, Jacque Fourie, Bryan Habana, Adrian Jacobs, Ricky Januarie, Odwa Ndungane, Jongi Nokwe, Wynand Olivier, Ruan Pienaar, JP Pietersen, Earl Rose, Morne Steyn.

Emerging Springboks to face the Lions
(23 June)

Backs - Heini Adams, Bjorn Basson, Burton Francis, Zane Kirchner, Louis Ludik, Morgan Newman, Earl Rose, Deon van Rensburg, Jano Vermaak, Luzuko Vulindlu.

Forwards - Jacques Botes, Jean Deysel, Wian du Preez, Werner Kruger, Tiaan Liebenberg, Bandise Maku, Dewald Pretorius, Wihelm Steenkamp, Steven Sykes, Franco van der Merwe, Duane Vermuelen.

Full tour schedule - Springboks vs British and Irish Lions 2009 Read more on "Springbok squad announced for the Lions series"!

Air France plane disappears over Atlantic

Air France Airbus A330-200An Air France plane, flight 447, carrying 228 people from Rio de Janeiro to Paris disappeared from radar while flying over the Atlantic Ocean. Portuguese air control authorities indicated that the plane did not make contact with controllers in Portugal's mid-Atlantic Azores Islands. The plane was scheduled to arrive in Paris at 10h15 (GMT+2) earlier today.

The Brazilian air force have started a search and french military aircraft was sent from Senegal to assist. According to Air France, the plane hit heavy turbulence and several thunderstorms - at this point they consider a lightning strike to be the most likely cause. Although the investigation is ongoing, it is assumed that all lives were lost in this tragic disaster. It will be the biggest loss of life experienced by Air France in its history.

3 June: Brazil navy races to Air France wreckage

Related links
In pictures: Air France plane vanishes - BBC News Read more on "Air France plane disappears over Atlantic"!
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