Saturday, 30 January 2010

Miramax closing down

I'm not a big fan of typical commercial Hollywood type movies because I love independent, art-house and foreign films. So it was quite disappointing to learn that Miramax, the movie studio that produced a lot of these type of films, will be shut down by Disney. Bad news!

Bob and Harvey Weinstein

Bob and Harvey Weinstein produced and/or distributed several of my favourite movies over the years. They left Miramax in 2005 but the studio still distributed great movies like No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood after that.

The Weinstein brothers launched the careers of directors like Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown) and Kevin Smith (Clerks). Other great movies were The Crying Game and Pedro Almodovar's Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! They are synonymous with independent movies and thrived on producing low-budget movies which brought great financial returns. The problem though is that they started producing big budget movies later on and their initial successful business model went out the window.

There are rumours that the Weinsteins want to buy the Miramax name back from Disney. Let's hope this is true because I definitely would like to see more of these movies being released to a wider audience under the brand that has done it so successfully before.


Miramax produced/distributed other favourites of mine like Trainspotting, My Left Foot, The Piano, Il Postino, Muriel's Wedding, Beautiful Girls, Swingers, Chasing Amy, Good Will Hunting, Life is Beautiful, Amelie. Here's the full list of films released by Miramax. Read more on "Miramax closing down"!

Friday, 29 January 2010

Thumbs up to Acer Support

Acer laptop
About a week ago my Acer laptop's keyboard started giving me problems. I would press a key and nothing happened. The problem was intermittent but happened more frequently over time.

I first did all the usual anti-virus scans and found nothing wrong. I then rebooted into BIOS and the problem persisted while moving around the menus, so that meant it was not a problem with the Windows OS, since the operating system has not loaded yet. So it could only be a hardware problem.

I contacted Acer Support in Johannesburg via email; they first checked if they had stock of the components for my model and the next day the fault was logged. The DVD writer also gave me hassles and stop burning DVD's a while ago, so I logged that too.


18 Jan: Contacted Acer Support via email
19 Jan: Received reply, said they had to check if they had components in stock first
20 Jan: Confirmed they did and fault was logged, received Case ID
21 Jan: Courier collected laptop in Cape Town and sent it to Johannesburg
28 Jan: Courier delivered laptop to me early morning

The keyboard and DVD writer was replaced as well as a plastic long strip which covers the internal speakers. Problem solved. I was without the laptop for five working days; so apart from two travel days they had the laptop for three days. I've dealt with Acer Support on two occasions and in both cases the experience was good. No hassles at all.

I'm just glad I had an extended warranty! Read more on "Thumbs up to Acer Support"!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Live event: Introducing the iPad - Apple's CEO Steve Jobs

Leo Laporte from Twit.tv covering the event - live video feed

Also see gdgt live for transcript and photos of the event.

Steve Jobs with the Apple iPad

Steve Jobs with the Apple iPad

Video: Apple iPad hands on

Related links
Full specs of the iPad - Apple
Apple's iPad: What you need to know - CNET Read more on "Live event: Introducing the iPad - Apple's CEO Steve Jobs"!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Car guards receive expensive Audi R8 as gift

Two car guards working at the Table Mountain Cable Car station in Cape Town was left stunned when a businessman approached them and gave them an Audi R8 car, valued at R1,4 million, as a gift! They thought he was joking but he later returned giving them the keys and paperwork.

The businessman said he had a dream to come to the mountain and told them they should use the car to do good deeds. The car guards have cut a slit in the bonnet of the car (yikes!) for messages and donations to be dropped in.

Police officers have stopped the two car guards assuming that the car was possibly stolen but the businessman has proved that he did indeed give them the car as a gift.

Audi R8

Have you ever seen the movie, Pay It Forward? Well, this story reminded me of that movie. There's still some good-natured people out there. This could well have been a big publicity stunt but since the businessman has remained anonymous, it appears to have been an act of kindness after all.

I must admit, I initially did question the validity of the story and then realised we seem to live in a world where negativity reigns supreme. Perhaps its time to change that.

Related link
Man gives Audi R8 as a tip Read more on "Car guards receive expensive Audi R8 as gift"!

Fatal shark attack in Fish Hoek

Great White shark
A man was killed on Tuesday after an attack by a Great White shark in Fish Hoek, outside Cape Town. I became aware of the attack after reading a message on Twitter, the social network: "Holy sh*t. We just saw a gigantic shark eat what looked like a person in front of our house ... That shark was huge. Like dinosaur huge". The message was posted by a resident in Fish Hoek who witnessed the attack from his home.

The giant shark attacked at an approximate two metre depth, which is considered rather shallow. There was an official warning issued earlier in the day by Cape Town's risk management centre since several sharks were spotted in the surrounding area. The beaches around the Cape Peninsula were closed after the incident but re-opened today after authorities were satisfied.

The last fatal shark attack at Fish Hoek was five years ago. Even though shark attacks are statistically quite uncommon, one should always be alert considering you're in their territory while swimming.

Here's a few things you can do to help reduce the risk of being attacked by a shark
  • Swim in groups
  • Use beaches where lifesavers and shark spotters are used
  • Stay on the landward side of wavebreakers
  • Don't go in more than waist-deep
  • Stay out of the water if mammals like whales or dolphins are spotted close to the beach
  • Stay out if fishermen with trawl nets are operating in the area

More safety tips: How to prevent a shark attack and what to do if it happens

Related links
Shark attack in water two-metres deep Read more on "Fatal shark attack in Fish Hoek"!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

The Broadband Bible for January 2010 released

Need help choosing an ADSL plan? Maybe this can help.

So my partner Craig and I have opened up 2010 with our official release of the The Broadband Bible, which is a 66 page pdf that compares ADSL and Wireless plans in South Africa. All in all, there are 35+ ISPs listed, and about 300+ different plans.
South Africa's confusing ADSL industry - Eve Dmochowska

Download the Broadband Bible (PDF) 892Kb Read more on "The Broadband Bible for January 2010 released"!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Burj Khalifa - Tallest building in the world

Burj Khalifa - Tallest building in the world
The tallest man-made structure ever built, the Burj Khalifa was inaugurated today. Since it's inception, the building was known as Burj Dubai but at the inauguration this evening it was renamed the Burj Khalifa in honour of the current President of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan. It was renamed since Sheikh Khalifa's emirate, Abu Dhabi, pumped billions of dollars into Dubai to help its neighbour out of financial crisis.

The Burj Khalifa stands at 818m (2684ft) and to put things in perspective, even if you put the Eiffel Tower on top of the 2nd tallest building, Taipei 101, it still wouldn't reach the height of Burj Khalifa!

It has 206 floors, excluding the basement. Aside from being the tallest building in the world, it also holds the following records:
  • Tallest free-standing structure in the world
  • Highest number of stories in the world
  • Highest occupied floor in the world
  • Highest outdoor observation deck in the world
  • Elevator with the longest travel distance in the world
  • Tallest service elevator in the world
Even if the spectacular skyscraper could eventually be considered a national icon in the UAE, there are a lot of expectations considering Dubai's recent debt-ridden status. Only time will tell whether it will be financially viable.

The structure is at the heart of Downtown Burj Dubai, a mega multi-purpose project which also hosts the world's largest shopping mall, the Dubai Mall with more than 1200 shops.

Burj Khalifa - Tallest man-made structure in the worldPhoto by Kuni Takahashi

The Burj Khalifa was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) architects and the primary builder was South Korean Samsung C&T, who also built the Taipei 101 and Petronas Twin Towers. Construction started in January 2004 and the total cost is estimated at about US$4,1 billion. The building includes an Armani hotel, about 1000 apartments, small offices and observatories.

Video: Burj Khalifa - World's tallest building

Video: A virtual representation of how the Burj Khalifa would measure up if it was located in other famous cities around the world

(If this video does not load, click here to see it)

Video: Burj Khalifa opens - fireworks display

Burj Khalifa at night

Burj Khalifa at night

Related links
The Burj Dubai: New world's tallest building shows that nothing succeeds like excess - Chicago Tribune
Burj Dubai renamed as Burj Khalifa Read more on "Burj Khalifa - Tallest building in the world"!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Somali pirates still in control

Somali pirates are now more rampant than ever. Pirate attacks almost doubled in 2009 compared to 2008, even though the naval forces of several countries have been deployed in the area.

Ransom paid

Today it was reported that a ransom of US$4 million was paid to pirates to release a Chinese cargo ship and its 25 sailors. With such high ransom money being paid, it unfortunately triggers more pirate attacks in the area. It's easy money. The pirates have even set up a "Pirate Stock Exchange" in Somalia where people can contribute weapons or any other supplies to assist the pirates and if they complete a successful hijack of a ship, the returns can be substantial. Yes, it sounds like something out of a movie, but it's not.

Gulf of Aden

The European Union Naval Force were the first (2008) to patrol the Gulf of Aden to prevent cargo ships from being attacked by the pirates. Naval forces from Britain, India, Iran, USA, France, China and other countries have since joined the fight against the pirates but since they have to cover such a vast area, their impact has unfortunately been less successful than expected. Ironically, since the naval forces of these countries have been working together with a common goal, it has led to an improvement of diplomatic relations between these countries. A big hurdle the warships face is that they usually don't have jurisdiction to try the pirates, once caught. Laws for modern piracy are sketchy at best.

Somali pirates

Earlier this year the deadline for the launch of the SEACOM undersea cable (to provide more bandwidth to countries on the east coast of Africa) was extended to accommodate extra measures that had to be taken to prevent pirates from disrupting the laying of the cable.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia has become a weekly occurrence and according to the EU Naval Force, Somali pirates are now holding eight vessels and 213 crew members, at the time of writing.

I'm really surprised that piracy on our oceans is still prevalent in the 21st century!

Related links
Piracy in Somalia
Pirate stock exchange opens in Somalia
History of piracy Read more on "Somali pirates still in control"!

2010 is here!

May you all have a prosperous 2010!

The highlight for South Africa should undoubtedly be the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in June. I'm really looking forward to it, considering it's one of the biggest sporting events in the world and the first time it will be hosted in Africa.

The nerd in me is sincerely hoping that SA broadband prices dramatically fall through the floor this year. We can only hope. Read more on "2010 is here!"!
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