Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Find fastest DNS servers with Google namebench

Google code
Google released an application called namebench, which will find the best DNS servers for your computer to use, by analysing usage patterns and calculating the fastest DNS service available.

What is DNS?

Every computer online has a unique IP address. The DNS (Domain Name System) is a service that translates domain names into IP addresses. This is very helpful because humans easily remember domain names since it uses the alphabet (e.g. it's easier to remember www.google.com instead of

Whenever you type a website address in your browser, a DNS server then resolves the domain name by translating it to an IP address and loads the website. There are several DNS servers around the world which does this translation for your computer. The big question is, is your computer currently using the fastest DNS service or not?

Normally your ISP automatically assigns it's own DNS servers to do the job for you. Since it's perhaps the closest DNS servers to you, it's assumed it's the fastest but sometimes that is not the case. Everyone has experience downtime at some point in their life where your internet connection appeared to be dead right? A lot of times it was simply your ISP's DNS servers that was down which effectively meant there was no way for you to browse any websites, since there was no service to translate that web address into the corresponding IP address.

Google namebench

Google namebench tests a number of DNS providers like Public DNS, OpenDNS, UltraDNS, including your own ISP's DNS. It takes a few minutes for the test to complete, a report is then generated which will list the performance of each, indicating the best DNS providers for you to use.
Namebench runs on Windows, Mac OS and UNIX.

If the generated namebench report suggests there are faster DNS servers than the ones you're currently using, perhaps you should consider changing it to enhance your all-round browsing experience.

Related links
Google's namebench and your name server Read more on "Find fastest DNS servers with Google namebench"!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Cape Town Stadium ready for action

Cape Town Stadium
Construction of the Cape Town Stadium has been completed and was handed over to Cape Town's Mayor, Dan Plato, on Monday during the opening ceremony. The stadium has been erected for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in June and will host five first round matches, one second round, one quarter-final and one semi-final.

The modern stadium seats 68 000 and is located in Green Point with spectacular views of Table Mountain. Brilliant setting. It took 32 months to complete at a cost of R4,4 billion.

Cape Town Stadium and Table Mountain
Read more on "Cape Town Stadium ready for action"!

It's official - Australia to get internet filter

No Entry
The Australian government has decided to implement an internet filter, similar to China! A blacklist will be maintained of sites deemed unsavoury and Australians will not be allowed to visit those websites. Sure, this has one big advantage of preventing access to child porn websites or similar but that's about where the advantages stop.


No more freedom of speech! The age-old right that every democracy has fought for, for centuries. You'll now have a government deciding on the nation's behalf what they should access and what not. Who is going to maintain the blacklist and ensure that legitimate sites don't get listed? Who will be making the decisions on behalf of the Australian citizens? This is truly a bad idea and even though there were widespread criticism of the proposed aussie filter, the project still got the green light to go ahead.

The fact that people with the technical skills will probably be able to bypass the internet filter is irrelevant, it does not change the fact that their freedom of speech will now be severely compromised as a nation. There's also the possibility that it will slow down general internet speed in Australia since the filter has to be applied for every request that is sent to a website.

I'm really surprised that a supposedly first-world country will be implementing censorship on this level. South Africa has a very liberal constitution and freedom of speech is encouraged. Clearly the Australian government view things differently. Perhaps those wanting to emigrate to Australia... should think again? ;)

Related links
Internet censorship plan gets the green light
Australia to implement internet filter Read more on "It's official - Australia to get internet filter"!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Facebook's new privacy settings

The new Facebook privacy settings were activated today. I just amended mine and I'm not impressed, clearly a lot less privacy than before!

What I like

Some of the settings have been combined and it's a lot simpler now. Convenient.

What I don't like

I've never had a problem with Facebook's privacy settings before, simply because the user always had the option to set a specific privacy setting for just about everything. However, with today's new privacy settings, a lot of those options have simply been removed which means as a user you now have less control over what is made public.

You don't have the option to hide your Friends List from Search anymore; that setting has simply been removed altogether, which means the list is now public. I'm sure Facebook will get a huge backlash on this issue alone!

You can now disable your Friends List from being displayed on your Profile page but then the people currently on your Friends List can't see it either, so it's not a good workaround. If someone finds your Facebook profile via Google search, they can now see random friends from your Friends List at first glance. There are several reasons why people would want to hide their Friends List from the public - There must be millions of divorcees who don't want their ex's to see the list to perhaps avoid the possibility of harrassment, for example.

Now you can't hide the Pages you're a fan of, from the public either. This is less of a worry to me since I only belong to a few music pages but then again some users may be fans of some sensitive Pages and the public can now see which Pages they belong to. Zero privacy.

People use Facebook for different reasons

For me it's mostly a tool to stay in touch with my real friends out there and share things about my life only with them and nobody else. It's personal. That goes out the window if the public can see that information too, especially if I have no option to set it to private anymore.

I expect a lot of people who use Facebook for the same reason I do, will now be forced to remove a lot of information from their Facebook profiles which sort of defeats the purpose of using the social network in the first place.

There has always been a huge concern over the so-called third party applications that is used on Facebook, since once you decide to use these applications, they have access to your profile information. Previously it was possible to control to a certain extent how much of this information was made available to the applications. Those API settings have now (seemingly) been removed too. I've never given access to third party applications anyway since it's a waste of my time and because I feel uncomfortable with the idea that some developer out there now have access to all my info. A lot of people who use those applications will now have to accept the fact that their personal information is at risk of being abused by those third parties. No thanks!

The rest of the new privacy settings seem OK... from what I'v seen so far. I'll update this page if I notice anything substantial.


I use Twitter as well but for completely different reasons than why I use Facebook. Twitter by design is public, so I tweet about things that are (hopefully) in public interest. Comments about new technology or 'discussing' new trends with other people on Twitter, even if I don't know them. That's fine because there's no security necessary, since it's the same comments I could have made while sitting at a public venue.

Facebook for me is different. The comments I make there only apply to my friends and as such I need some guarantee that those comments are not public, even if the comments themselves are nothing to write home about. It's a matter of principle.

Simply put, Facebook has failed to provide users with the option to really control their privacy and that is simply unacceptable. All it means is I'll use Facebook a lot less than before (did you read that Mr Zuckerberg!). Read more on "Facebook's new privacy settings"!

Friday, 4 December 2009

2010 FIFA World Cup draw

2010 FIFA World Cup
The 2010 FIFA World Cup will be held between 11 June and 11 July 2010 in South Africa. The long-awaited draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup took place in Cape Town this evening at the CTICC (Cape Town International Convention Centre).

Draw hosts: South African Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke
Hosts: South African Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke


Group A: South Africa, Mexico (A2), Uruguay (A3), France (A4)
Group B: Argentina, Nigeria (B2), Korea Republic (B3), Greece (B4)
Group C: England, USA (C2), Algeria (C3), Slovenia (C4)
Group D: Germany, Australia (D2), Serbia (D3), Ghana (D4),
Group E: Netherlands, Denmark (E2), Japan (E3), Cameroon (E4),
Group F: Italy, Paraguay (F2), New Zealand (F3), Slovakia (F4)
Group G: Brazil, Korea DPR (G2), Ivory Coast (G3), Portugal (G4)
Group H: Spain, Switzerland (H2), Honduras (H3), Chile (H4),

2010 FIFA World Cup Match Schedule (GMT+2 / CAT)

The opening match of the tournament is on Friday, 11 June at 4pm (GMT+2) at Soccer City in Johannesburg between host nation South Africa and Mexico. Who will win the tournament? Brazil, Spain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and England are considered favourites to win the tournament. England in particular received an easy draw so they should not have any problems going through to the next round. The biggest game in the first round appears to be Brazil vs Portugal.

Bafana Bafana

Bafana Bafana striker - Benni McCarthy
As a South African I obviously hope that the South African National Football team (Bafana Bafana) does well and it would be quite an achievement if they could reach the second round of the tournament.  Unfortunately it's a tough draw for Bafana Bafana with France (7), Mexico (15) and Uruguay (19) ranked quite high according to the FIFA world rankings. Realistically, it will be quite an uphill battle since they haven't shown good form in recent months and are currently ranked 86th in the world.

However, since South Africa is the host country for the tournament,  Bafana Bafana will enjoy fanatic home support and it will hopefully motivate the players even more to do well. Their coach is brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira (coached Brazil when they won the 1994 World Cup in the USA). Make us proud Bafana Bafana!

Related links
2010 FIFA World Cup - Official site
2010 FIFA World Cup Match Schedule - Supersport
World Rankings - FIFA/Coca-Cola
Bafana Bafana - The South African Football Association
Draw ignites FIFA World Cup fever - Fifa.com
2010 FIFA World Cup Draw Photo Gallery - Sport24 Read more on "2010 FIFA World Cup draw"!
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