Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Insane street soccer

Check out this video, some insane street soccer from Mexico! Unbelievable skills. Or not?

The people in the video are not soccer players but extreme martial arts performers from Team Ryouko.

FIFA Street 3 - Team Ryouko Interviews

The German TV program, Galileo FakeCheck, did an investigation to determine whether some of the scenes in the video are fake or not. They determined it to be fake after investigating the movements of the performers and the video itself, from a technical perspective.
Watch the video

The first video was created to promote the FIFA Street 3 video console game. Very entertaining ad, even though it's perhaps enhanced. :) Read more on "Insane street soccer"!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Microsoft releases Windows 7

Windows 7
Windows 7, Microsoft's new operating system (OS) was released today and will be available on the shelves and pre-installed on most PC's from now on. It replaces the 3-year old problematic Vista OS.

If you want to follow the buzz on Windows 7's launch, view the What people are saying about Windows 7 realtime feed or these Windows 7 related tweets on Twitter

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveils Windows 7 - Live Launch Event
(Thursday, 22 October - Time: 11am EDT / 5pm GMT+2)

Problems with Windows Vista

Windows 7 has received mostly great reviews, especially if compared to Windows Vista during the beta testing period. Windows Vista was launched in January 2007 but it failed miserably to impress new users, mostly due to sluggish performance and incompatibility with existing drivers. I bought a laptop a few months after the Vista launch in 2007 and didn't have a good experience using it; luckily I had the Vista Professional licence which included a XP licence so I downgraded to XP instead. A lot of users did this.

Microsoft did eventually sort out the Vista problems with later service pack releases but by the time I wanted to upgrade to Vista again, the negative reviews of Vista still continued, and it put me off. It must be said though that its predecessor Windows XP has been very stable so a lot of users didn't see the point in upgrading to Vista anyway.

However, Windows 7 is getting rave reviews and the fact that Microsoft has replaced Vista in only three years, is proof that they wanted to get Vista out of the way.

Windows 7 compatibility

The focus with Windows 7 is clearly focussed on full compatibility with existing applications and hardware and therefore be a much more refined version of Vista. Windows 7 offers a couple of new features, including touch recognition, improved performance on multi-core processors, faster boot time and support for virtual hard disks.

You can use the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor tool to test if your PC will be compatible with Windows 7.

Video: Windows 7 review by CNET

Windows 7 versions

Windows 7 Starter - Least features (stay away)
Windows 7 Home Basic - Aimed at emerging markets
Windows 7 Home Premium - Aimed at the home market
Windows 7 Professional - Aimed at enthusiasts and small business owners (same features as Home Premium but can access Windows Server domain)
Windows 7 Enterprise - Aimed at enterprise market, will be sold via volume licensing to companies
Windows 7 Ultimate - Has same features as Enterprise but will be available to home users too

When using Windows 7, you may find the odd application that was designed to only run in Windows XP. Fear not, you can download Windows XP Mode which will give you the ability to Windows XP applications that may not be natively compatible with Windows 7 (only works on Windows 7 Professional and higher).

You can upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 but you'll have to do a fresh install if you're moving from XP to Windows 7. When it comes to new operating systems, I'd just do a completely new install anyway.

Do you have to upgrade to Windows 7?

You didn't have to upgrade from XP to Vista and you don't "have to" upgrade from XP or Vista to Windows 7 either, yet Windows 7 has clearly already been much better received by testers/reviewers than Windows Vista ever was. Windows 7 is what Windows Vista was supposed to be. Also note that all Windows XP support, including security updates and security-related hotfixes will be terminated on 8 April, 2014. Whenever new applications are developed by third parties, the focus will be to make it compatible with Windows 7 first, from now on.

I'm planning to move to Windows 7, but only after the first service pack has been released. That way I avoid the initial gremlins (hope there aren't many) that usually accompanies the launch of any new operating system.

Related links
Windows 7 - Microsoft
Windows 7 pricing revealed for South Africa - MyBroadband Read more on "Microsoft releases Windows 7"!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts - 2009/2010

The annual Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts in Cape Town have become increasingly popular over the years. If you love live music and want to see local artists perform in a beautiful scenic location, then I suggest you grab your picnic basket and head off to one of these concerts. I've attended numerous of them and had a great time, every time. It's one of my favourite pastimes in Cape Town.

Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts - stage

Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts - 2009/2010 line-up

Location:  Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Rhodes Drive, Newlands
Tickets:     Tel 021 799 8783 or 021 799 8620 or 021 799 8773 or book online at www.webtickets.co.za
Prices:      R75 for adults (R95 for concerts marked *)
Open:       Venue is open from 15:00 - 20:00pm* / Concert Time 17:30 -18:30*
                *Confirm times when you purchase your tickets

Ticket sales for the sunset concerts start from the Tuesday preceding the concert.

Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts - Table Mountain

See you there!

Related links:
Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts - UncoverTheCape
SA National Biodiversity Institute - Kirstenbosch Read more on "Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts - 2009/2010"!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Easier Wi-Fi on the way

wi-fi devices
A new technology called Wi-Fi Direct is on the way (expected mid 2010) which will allow regular electronic devices to act as wireless hotspots.

For most non-technical people, setting up a wireless network at home is considered a hassle. You need to setup an access point to which all the wireless devices like your laptop need to connect to, in order to go online or communicate with each other.

Turn gadgets into wireless access points

However, with Wi-Fi Direct it will be possible to turn a gadget into a wireless access point so you'll be able to connect one device directly to another which would e.g. make file sharing much easier to do. This technology will effectively allow Wi-Fi clients/devices to create adhoc peer-to-peer networks among one another.

Wi-Fi Direct will be built into consumer electronics in the future and scan the surroundings for other wi-fi enabled devices it can connect to (similar to bluetooth and quite frankly, bluetooth is much slower than wi-fi so it's bye-bye to bluetooth as well). This can e.g. include phones, computers, TVs and gaming consoles.

If you already have a wireless network, you will be able to upgrade to Wi-Fi Direct through a simple software upgrade at the time.

Consumer devices are not only used to access the internet; a lot of users would want all their devices to access each other directly as well and this technology will make that easy to do.

With Wi-Fi Direct you could eventually turn all cellphones and television sets into wi-fi hotspots. Imagine your TV having wi-fi capability - you'll be able to transfer photos from wi-fi enabled cameras, camcorders and laptops to the TV with ease, using no wires at all. Very convenient!


I have a wireless network setup at home using a wireless router and although the router is used to access the internet, it has many other functions as well like routing traffic to different computers on the network but most importantly... for security reasons. The hardware firewall on the router prevents most unwanted prying eyes from taking a peek at my network.

So although it will clearly be convenient to enable consumer devices to connect to each other directly through this new Wi-Fi Direct technology, I'm just wondering how this will affect the security of these devices since they won't necessarily be hiding behind a router anymore. The level of encryption between the ad-hoc devices will be crucial. I wouldn't want any device to become vulnerable for the sake of convenience.

Related links
Wi-Fi Alliance® announces groundbreaking specification to support direct Wi-Fi connections between devices - Wi-Fi Alliance
Wi-Fi Alliance Announces Wi-Fi Direct Spec - PCWorld Read more on "Easier Wi-Fi on the way"!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Best places to live, according to UN

NorwayAccording to the 2009 United Nations Human Development Report, Norway is the best country in the world to live in.

The criteria used for the report (182 countries): Life expectancy, literacy rates, school enrolment and country economies. It must be noted though that this report is based on data up to 2007 (therefore before the global economic crisis).

10 best places to live
  1. Norway
  2. Australia
  3. Iceland
  4. Canada
  5. Ireland
  6. the Netherlands
  7. Sweden
  8. France
  9. Switzerland
  10. Japan
USA is 13th, China 92nd and South Africa is placed 129th. The least desirable countries to live in are Niger and Afghanistan. Life expectancy in Niger is only 50 years, 30 years less than Norway. The disparity between rich and poor is quite evident from the report.

Full Human Development Report 2009 (list of chapters in PDF format)

Looking at the criteria used to compile the report, it does take quite a materialistic approach to determine 'human' development. One could argue that 'quality of life' is more important than 'standard of living' and how you measure the former is debatable. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, ecological awareness, moral development, recreaton etc. are all factors which could have influenced the rankings.

Also, countries with a very rich upper class but a large lower class (in terms of income) could still appear to have a good 'standard of living' index when in fact, it's not the case. Read more on "Best places to live, according to UN"!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Le Zoulou Blanc - Johnny Clegg

Johnny CleggI've been a fan of Johnny Clegg since my high school days back in the 80's. My first big live music concert I attended was in the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town where I saw Johnny Clegg and his band Savuka perform. Their unique style, the mesmerising dance routines and soulful traditional music really impressed me.

Video: Johnny Clegg & Juluka - Impi (1983 Live)
(Impi is played regularly at rugby stadiums in South Africa today)

I never realised how popular Johnny Clegg & Savuka was in Europe at the time. I backpacked Europe in 1989 and distinctly remember walking into a music shop in Geneva, Switzerland and to my surprise there were Clegg posters all over the walls. I asked the cashier if there was some sort of a promotion going on... and he just gave me a weird look, politely informing me that Savuka had the best selling album in France at the time! The french call him "Le Zoulou Blanc" (The White Zulu). Even Michael Jackson had to cancel a concert in France at the time due to Clegg being much more popular!

Johnny Clegg surely lived through tough times growing up in South Africa. During his teenage years he was a street musician, learning Zulu music and dancing from Charlie Mzila and later Sipho Mchunu, with whom he later formed Juluka, the first multi-racial band in South Africa.

Video: Johnny Clegg the dancer

The Apartheid government frowned upon music where the styles were mixed between Western and Zulu; they weren't particularly impressed that the band was multi-racial either. The state-owned SABC (SA Broadbasting Corporation) banned their music altogether from the air waves at the time but their popularity spread by word-of-mouth. He was arrested several times as a youngster for associating with black people and for his political lyrics; basically considered an enemy of the state. Later on in 1987 he wrote "Asimbonanga" which called for Nelson Mandela's release from prison.

Percussionist Dudu Zulu was also Clegg's dance partner for years. He was assassinated in 1992 which eventually led to the band, Savuka, disbanding in 1993. The Crossing was a tribute to him.

Video: Johnny Clegg & Savuka - Scatterlings of Africa

Video: Johnny Clegg performing "Asimbonanga", on stage with Nelson Mandela (1999)
(Female singer is Mandisa Dlanga)

SavukaIn a nationwide poll in 2004, Johnny Clegg was named no.23 in a list of "100 Greatest South Africans". He is comfortably South Africa's biggest music export. He sings in both English and Zulu, speaks Zulu fluently, understands every aspect of their culture and had the courage to stand up for what he believed in, during difficult times.

Video: Johnny Clegg - Jongosi
(Song was used for the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France. South Africa won the tournament.)

At the time of writing, Johnny Clegg has recorded an astonishing 19 studio albums to date. Very inspiring music by a truly fantastic South African. Read more on "Le Zoulou Blanc - Johnny Clegg"!
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